Many business leaders and IT executives see cybersecurity and the customer experience as two very separate areas that only intersect in certain places. They understand that customers want to feel secure in using their online platform, whether that platform is for shopping, accessing healthcare information, or paying an invoice. However, many of these leaders don’t realize that cybersecurity improvements can actually enhance the customer experience in many more ways.
Sometimes these improvements provide active security enhancements that add layers of protection, while other times, they are more passive in nature. Either way, they can improve the experience your customers have, which in turn makes those customers more likely to return to your website, make a purchase, and tell others. Here are a few of the ways improving your cybersecurity will enhance your customer’s experience.
Stronger Security Prevents Loss of Service and Data
The most obvious way that cybersecurity affects a customer’s experience is in protecting their information and providing them with access to their accounts and online tools. Poor cybersecurity and IT management leave a company open to attack. These cyberattacks can lead to an interruption in service, lost data, and more.
Customers may no longer be able to access your online portal, transforming what may have once been a very pleasant customer experience into a frustrating event. Even if such an outage doesn’t directly affect your customers, it may affect your employees. They may not be able to access the information or tools they need to provide quality customer service.
Suppose a customer’s private information is stolen during a cyberattack or by a virus. In that case, it not only negatively impacts their overall experience with your company but can also impact their overall financial status. They may have to cancel credit cards, work with banks to negate fraudulent charges, and monitor their credit for months. This goes beyond frustrating for the customer, and you’ve likely lost their trust forever.
Similarly, Knowledgeable Team Members Can Protect your System
Do your employees understand cybersecurity and how vital it is to your business? If they do not, they are more likely to make mistakes. Again, these mistakes can directly impact customer experience by causing system downtime or data loss. Your employees should be trained in how to recognize phishing attempts, how to create strong passwords, and other good cybersecurity habits.
This training needs to be companywide. No one should be exempt because everyone can make a mistake that opens the door to cyberattacks. The CEO may click a phishing email link just as easily as an administrative assistant, so the entire company needs to be aware of how their actions can affect security.
Collect Only Information You Need
A more passive way of improving customer experience and cybersecurity is to look at the data you’re collecting from your customers. Many businesses believe that the more information they can collect, the better. They want as much data as possible about each customer, so they can create more customer groupings and directly market to those groups. However, in the event of a data breach, all of that information can be stolen and used to steal customers’ identities.
Look at what information you are collecting. Do you need all of it for marketing purposes? Is it required for your customers to authenticate and log in to your system? Does collecting that information enhance a user’s experience, or does it have no impact on them whatsoever? If you’re gathering data simply to gather it, it’s likely not needed. Stop asking your customers for that information and securely purge it from your databases.
If there is data you must collect, review your collection methods and the security surrounding it. You should store this data in an encrypted format and on a secure server. This is also a good time to review your data storage and deletion policies. It’s important to have regulations in place that outline when a customer’s information should be deleted and how that process will be handled.
In short, the less information you collect and store, the less enticing your company databases will be. While the goal with managed IT services and security is to prevent breaches, it’s also a fact that no system is completely and totally safe. Minimize the amount of damage that could incur by carefully gathering, storing, using, and deleting customer data.
Regularly Review Your Cybersecurity Improvements
Improving your cybersecurity is commendable and will have an impact on your customer experience. However, you do need to remember that security isn’t something you work on once. You should review your cybersecurity policies and how those policies are implemented on a regular basis. By working with a Santa Rosa managed IT service provider, you can test your current security and determine what areas are still in need of improvement.
Cyberattacks evolve, and your security must evolve with it. If you don’t improve your security policies and practices, you leave yourself vulnerable. Again, these vulnerabilities can lead to service interruptions and loss of data, both of which impact the customer experience. Evaluating and improving your data monitoring, point-to-point encryption, authentication processes, and other security methods will help you keep ahead of cyberattacks.
Take a Proactive Stance Against Data Breaches
Experts suggest you take a “when” approach to data breaches rather than an “if” approach when it comes to data breaches. That means you should prepare your disaster recovery plans for “when” a data breach happens instead of hoping it never does. Unfortunately, these events are more common than many people think, and even the smallest business can be hit.
What does this directly translate into for you? It means you need to have a proactive response planned for any cyberattack. You should include how you will address the weaknesses in your security that were exploited, how you will communicate the breach to customers, and what steps you will take to quickly restore services and information.
This response translates into the customer experience by reassuring your customers and quickly repairing and rebuilding from the attack. Customers will not like hearing that their data was accessed by unauthorized parties and will likely lose some trust in you. However, attempting to cover up the breach or ignore it will cause them to lose even more confidence in your ability to handle a cyberattack.
By being proactive, you can provide a more secure customer experience by actively looking at weak areas and preparing a plan to shore up those weaknesses. This proactiveness can also translate over into the customer experience by upgrading and implementing new security processes. For example, if you implement two-factor authentication, it changes the customer experience by showing them that you take security seriously and are taking steps to make their account more secure.
Patch and Update Software Regularly
Nearly every piece of software will be patched or updated at least once. Make certain you always apply these patches and updates when they are released. Doing so will help close exploits and other vulnerabilities in the software, protecting your customers, and reducing service interruptions and data loss.
Some software will automatically update, and if this is an option, you should have it enabled. Other software may need manual approval to update. In these situations, having a managed IT services provider who routinely checks your applications for updates can be very helpful.
When purchasing new software, make certain that it fully integrates with your existing system. This is especially important if you are changing security programs. A program that does not fully integrate into your system may not be fully protected or have exploits that can be used as a backdoor into your network.
Review and Improve Your Virus and Malware Scanners
Like software, your virus scanner and malware protection applications need to be regularly patched and updated. However, these two pieces of software are even more vital. You always want to check your antivirus, firewall, malware, and other security programs regularly. All it takes is for one small virus to make its way into your system to compromise everything.
This is another area in which working with a service provider that specializes in IT management can help. A small worm may be able to infiltrate your antivirus program. It can shut off the automatic update option or even disable your antivirus software, letting in other viruses. An IT service is likely to catch this issue and investigate.
Begin Boosting Your Customer Experience by Improving Your Cybersecurity Today
If you already have strong cybersecurity, you may not be certain where you can begin improving it. That’s where Wooden Spoon IT Support comes in. As one of the top Santa Rosa managed IT service providers in Sonoma County, we can assist you in boosting both your cybersecurity and your customer experience.
Our team will do a thorough evaluation of your security and other parts of your network. We will then sit down with you and present custom solutions that fit your needs, your customers’ needs, and your industry requirements. We will then work closely with you to implement this plan and continue monitoring your system for threats and attacks.