Ask most CEOs how they get new customers, and “referrals” will be in the top three. How do you get referrals? Earn the trust of your customers, and they will tell their friends about you. On the other hand, if you lose that trust, customers will not only leave, but they’ll also tell their friends why.
The quickest way to erode or even eliminate your customers’ trust is to lose control of their data. Making payments alone is a huge leap of faith: In a study of U.S. consumer payment methods, 72 percent of consumers report that they mostly made transactions using a credit or debit card. Each time a card is used, customers trust that their payment information won’t be compromised.
Customers trust they’re getting what they’ve paid for and that the information they provide to do business with you is protected. Cybersecurity is now a necessity at every business. Unless you make it a priority, it’s only a matter of time until your customers’ data will be affected, and that will hit your bottom line.
Avoid a 40 Percent Hit to Your Bottom Line
Data breaches usually lead customers to reevaluate their relationships with a company. For instance, when cyber attackers hacked the information of as many as 70 million Target customers in December 2013, the company’s fourth-quarter profits fell by more than 40 percent.
A retail giant like Target might have the cushion to sustain such a blow, but most small businesses don’t. In fact, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small businesses that suffer cyberattacks close within six months. To make sure your business isn’t one of them, use the following approach:
.Prioritize password safety. A Keeper Security survey revealed that more than 80 percent of people reuse passwords across multiple websites. That means it’s likely some of your employees do the same thing and pose a big security risk for your company. Instead of making employees remember dozens of complex passwords, train them to use a password management tool that requires them to remember only one. These management systems can easily keep track of unique passwords across all platforms and sites. Many of these tools are free, but even feature-rich paid versions can be purchased for less than a $20 annual fee.
2. Train your employees to spot phishing scams. Opening the wrong email or clicking on a malicious link can endanger your whole structure. Prepare for this by teaching your employees how to spot phishing scams. These attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but some basic education can make a big difference.
Strengthen your defenses even more by integrating a better spam filter into your system. These safeguards remove most phishing emails before they can tempt your employees with “free” Amazon gift cards or a “giant” tax refund.
3. Invest in cybersecurity insurance. In the case of data breaches, unfortunately, it’s less a matter of “if” than “when.” Even the largest companies in the world with their massive cyber-defense budgets fall victim to security breaches.
It’s a good idea to get a cyber liability insurance policy that will help your business stay open in the event of a costly data breach. Having the policy in place also demonstrates to your customers that you are making security a priority and that their peace of mind matters to you.
With all the daily demands of running a business, cybersecurity can easily end up on the back burner. Don’t lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen by waiting until you’ve already been attacked to shore up your defenses. To protect your customers, maintain their trust, and earn their referrals, prioritize cybersecurity defenses and training today. It’s an investment in your company’s long-term viability.