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Building Customer Cyber Security Trust - One step at a time

Whether it’s for business or personal use, the internet has embedded itself in every part of our modern lives. Customers and online businesses continue to drive the ecommerce boom, and social media connects millions.

As with all systems we rely on heavily, the first step to making the most of the digital age is protecting ourselves, our assets and our data online. Cyber security saw a boom as offices shifted to remote work and millions migrated online during various lockdowns.

But even customers who are ready to invest in cyber security may not know enough to set the right expectations. As a result, product and service providers need to engage with clients in a way that educates, inspires trust and promotes transparency.

Today we’re going to look at the three major factors behind setting the right customer expectations: product development, brand trust and customer engagement. These three factors are the foundation of a solid relationship between you, your clients and your cyber security program.

Let’s dive into them.

Product development

Many cyber security companies see themselves as service providers, and they are, but that’s not how most customers see you. They’re focused on the solution you provide, not necessarily the expertise you use to execute. Your service and knowledge are just as valuable, the first step in managing expectation is to meet people where they are.

Think of your cyber security program as a product

If you already have a fully realized cyber security program, you can still make use of product development techniques to engage customers. Product development isn’t just about creating it – the final step is how to deliver it to your audience in a way that meets their needs.

That’s why so many digital service providers prefer the term “digital solutions” instead. That centers the customer’s problem and your ability to solve it. This makes it easier to talk to potential clients who might not be as tech savvy or find it daunting. It also

If you want to set the right expectations, don’t neglect how you pitch your cyber security program.

Don’t neglect audience education

Speaking about your security service as a problem-solving product also helps customers ask the right questions. This makes it easier to educate potential customers without being patronizing. Education in this sense should be an exchange of information, not a lecture.

One handy method of educating audiences while engaging them and learning more about your product is through queries. Whether it’s the first thing on your home page or a small window on the product page, a query section gives you one-on-one access with clients and helps you guide them to the right solution without misunderstanding your service.

Cyber security packages set their own expectations

Cyber threats aren’t limited to big firms with dedicated cyber security departments. In fact, cyber-attacks routinely target smaller businesses because they have less protection – and more of those are cropping up in the ecommerce boom.

Using cyber security features at different price points for different needs opens up more customers for your program. When it comes to managing expectations, a tiered package system sets its own too.

Tiered packages allow you to clearly state what customers can get out of your program. This can set the right expectations before a sale is made, and that’s what we want.

Last but not least, tiering of cyber security features could weed out customers who have harsh requirements but aren’t willing to pay for the extra effort.

Brand trust

Often in digital marketing, branding is spoken about as a sales tactic, a product pitch or an aesthetic. While those are contributing factors, they don’t tell the full story.

The best way to look at your brand is as the sum of your customer’s experience with your business.

Your brand lives fully in the minds of your audience. If you want to put out the right brand message, you need to ask the right question: am I creating a customer experience that inspires trust and communicates my ability to solve their problems?

Let’s break down the ways you can do that while setting the right expectations.

Promote your security program on your website

No customer is going to trust a provider that doesn’t have a website. But just having your own domain name isn’t enough on its own to promote brand trust.

Customers have learned to judge businesses by how well they construct their websites and how easy it is to engage with them. This shows professionalism and competence on your side and creates a satisfying customer experience (UX) – which we’ll touch on below.

Make use of trust-building tools on your website

One tool providers are taking advantage of is a trust page on their websites. This is a dedicated page that hosts any business info that generates trust, including: mission statement, certifications, public security polices such as a vulnerability disclosure policy, testimonials, reviews and other forms of social proof.

Blog pages on your website are a great space to show your expertise too. Speaking as a security expert in your industry personalizes your brand and shows that you know your stuff.

A positive track record and proven experience inspires trust. A website is one of the most important platforms for facilitating that, so use its tools intentionally.

Communicate integrity and confidentiality early

Customers don’t just expect your program to protect them from cyber threats, they expect confidentiality too. Integrating a cyber-security program means dealing with sensitive client information, and often more.

Depending on the industry your customers work in, your cyber security program will be subject to different data protection laws too. For example, a customer in US healthcare would expect your program to comply with HIPAA regulations for handling confidential patient information.

Building trust in this sense is about understanding the context of a customer’s cyber security needs. That might mean clarifying the industries your program specializes in. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with providing a more generalized service, but specialist programs have an easier time of creating the right expectations.

Be proactive with customer engagements

It’s easier to set the right customer expectations than it is to correct the wrong ones later in the process. This is why websites are so important for establishing your product. You should also commit to answering customer queries in a timely fashion.

Queries are a great opportunity to establish a relationship with customers while showing your value. They also allow you to be proactive by linking back to your product, setting up consultations and – if you choose to – offering a trial package so they can audit your services.

If you want to set the right customer expectations, communicate clearly and have the next engagement steps ready to go.

Customer engagement

We’ve talked about managing expectations from a product and branding perspective, but now let’s talk about what happens when customers start interacting with your program. Customer engagement in this segment is about the relationship customers have with your product.

We want to remove any friction or pain points while your customers are engaging with your program. Luckily, there are plenty of methods to help you.

Use a trusted framework and offer compliance reports

The most reliable way to build trust and healthy expectations is to align with the right compliance framework.

If your program complies with a framework like ISO27001, for example, then it can be certified under a respected international information security standard. If your business is based in the US, you can also look at a nationally recognized cyber security framework like NIST.

These frameworks make it easier to generate compliance reports for customers. These reports show customers that your program is helping them comply with the best safety standards. Not only are regular reports a sign of professionalism, but they reinforce communication and trust. If something in your program needs to be adjusted, these reports can also show customers why that would be beneficial.

Frameworks like ISO27001 and NIST are a ready-made set of standards. You can use them to manage customer expectations from the onboarding phase to back-end support months down the line.

Make sure customers are trained

If there’s any part of your program that relates to security that customers will need to interact with by themselves, training is imperative. You don’t want to ruin your setup with human error you can’t account for. Even if your program is fully automated or run by you, customer training still has it’s value.

Training helps customers understand your product’s security better, which grounds their expectations in solid knowledge. It’s also a time to strengthen customer relationships while letting your security expertise shine through.

Include security tidbits in the onboarding process

Now a successful sale doesn’t mean a customer’s expectations are set. In fact, the onboarding stage needs to be built correctly to avoid unnecessary disruptions and hesitation. Any part of onboarding that needs customer input should be as simple and clear as possible.

This is not the time to surprise customers with new information. Anything they need to know about your program should be detailed upfront, and onboarding should just be a formality. A poor experience in this phase can set negative expectations for the future, but a positive one maintains that hard-earned trust.

Emphasize ongoing support

After onboarding a customer, you should have channels that they can reach you through for added security related support. Data is constantly on the move and cyber security needs to be flexible enough to protect it at all times.

This means that incident response situations can occur. Ongoing backend support is how you keep on top of situations and minimize risk all around.

Having a good security support system maintains brand trust too, so don’t neglect communication once everything is set up. If you’re worried about seeming obtrusive, make scheduled check-ins a part of your packages so customers know to expect them.

Expectations are based on experiences and relationships

Establishing a good cyber security rapport with customers is about more than having a good security program – it’s about helping people solve their problems to a satisfying level. Setting the right customer expectations is about keeping the focus on the value you can provide and the problems you can solve.

At a time when more people are looking for cyber security solutions, service providers should work with customers to set the right expectations. After all, security is built on trust, communication and collaboration.

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