Focus on forms

This week we’re looking at instances where you collect personal information (PI). For example, customer application forms, employee forms, the CVs of candidates, and vendor forms. According to the POPIA, you shouldn’t collect more information than you need, so this week you are going to make a list of the PI you collect and what you use it for.

When customers interact with you for the first time, you ask them for PI like their names and contact details.

You need this PI to assist and communicate with customers, but have you ever thought about what customers experience when completing the forms? Forms have the power to radically influence the way your customers perceive your business, and that perception shapes the relationship they have with you.

You know what they say about first impressions!

1. Gather all your forms
Gather all the forms that you use in your business, including any paper form or digital form that you expect staff, customers, or service providers to complete, or that you complete on their behalf. This will give you an overview of the information you are collecting.

2. Simplify
Choose the form your customers complete most often and read it as if you are the customer. Complete all the fields. Think about each field you complete, and then consider whether your business really needs this information, and what you use it for.

For example, do you really need a customer to complete their date of birth when you have their ID number? (The ID number already contains the date of birth.) Open your workbook at the Customer PI tab and start recording the form fields. What customer PI do you collect? Where do you get it from? Why do you need it?

Use your Risks Master tab to list wording or fields on the form that need updating or improvement. If you identify any fields you think you can cut from the form, do it. Why? Nobody enjoys completing forms, and the POPIA says that you should not collect  PI if you don’t need it.

3. Make it foolproof
Clear, usable forms reduce the risk of errors and increase the chance that a customer will complete the form in full without any hiccups. Here are some examples of what you could do to improve your form.

4. Fine print
According  to the POPIA, you must be transparent with your customer about what PI you have and what you use it for. You need to include this privacy notice in your form. We’ll spend some more time on privacy notices later in this programme.

5. A note on marketing
If you want to send your customers direct marketing messages, you need their specific consent. This is how you ask for specific consent:

Yes, I would like to receive promotional information from The Best Business (Pty) Ltd.

Include this wording on your form – remember to replace ‘The Best Business (Pty) Ltd’ with your business name! You may only send marketing material to the customer who ticked the box.


We focussed on customer forms, because you must start somewhere. But you need to repeat this exercise (with some minor adaptations) for the forms you use to collect the PI of your employees (both those whom you interviewed when they applied for a job and the ones you actually hired), as well as forms you use to collect the PI you have about your suppliers and service providers.

You can use the HR PI tab when looking at employee and candidate information. Whenever you identify wording or fields that need improvement or updating, use the Risks Master tab to keep record.


 You’re welcome to send us your forms – that way we have them ready if you want to talk them over with us.

Remember that you have a free one-hour consultation included with this programme!
Use it, and contact us if you have any questions about this week’s topic.