Data from ReputationUS and DHM Research shows that consumers are nearly as likely to blame companies (46%) as they are hackers (54%) for data breaches. This takes a toll on an organization’s reputation. How quick and precise you are with your response to a cyber attack (and how prepared you are before an attack occurs) determines how soon you’ll regain customer trust
In this information age where cyber attacks are prevalent, site users are aware of the different types of attacks and how their valuable data can be misused if it falls into the wrong hands. Additionally, many site visitors understand how a cyber attack can disrupt their lives by leaking their sensitive personal information. This can result in financial theft, identity compromise, and a host of other issues.
Users don’t want to deal with businesses or websites that aren’t serious about user data security and don’t use proper website security measures. Likewise, according to Statista, 59% of companies report that the loss of reputation is one of the biggest impacts on their businesses. Why? Because users feel betrayed and are reluctant trust the site again when it comes to their personal data.
However, if you’re among those companies that have lost customer trust, sales, reputation and revenue, there are steps you can take to improve the situation. Below are a few tips to consider that will help you regain customer trust after recovering from a cyber attack.
11 Tips for Companies That Have Lost Customer Trust For How to Get Back on Track
If you’re among those companies that suffered a decline in sales and revenue due to loss of customer trust, then below are some of the tips you can consider following to win back your customers.
1. Maintain Transparency Regarding Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches
While you may feel tempted to hide news about a data breach, especially from those customers whose data has been affected, doing so can be disastrous. But it will be more damaging for your business in the long run if you keep it hidden. Sooner or later, the truth will come out and people will hear about it. It’s better to own the mistakes you made (instead of hiding them) and inform the affected users about the data breach so they can make informed decisions about how to protect themselves.
Those who purposefully hide data breaches will be deemed untrustworthy by users once they find out the truth. For example, in 2016, records of 57 million Uber users and drivers were compromised. People were understandably outraged when they heard that the company’s CEO and CSO paid the hackers $100,000 to keep data breaches hidden from the media and industry regulators.
Likewise, some of the major ways Uber got affected by reputational damages are like:
- Brand name Uber got tarnished, as they tried covering the data breach by paying hackers ransom of $100,000.
- They faced a $148 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Uber stock prices fell after these attacks and a series of other controversies.
On the other hand, your company will retain more respect from your customers if you own up to your mistakes, make your users aware of the attack, and take steps to rectify the situation and mitigate the vulnerabilities that led to it.
2. Ensure the Information You Report Is Accurate
Make sure you’re aware of all the facts before making any statements regarding a cyberattack. You need to know exactly what kind of data breach has occurred and ideally, how it happened.
To regain customer trust, you can’t make any mistakes in describing the cyber attack. If you are found to misinterpret information, your customers may not trust you.
Additionally, we recommend that you’re honest about anything that you DON’T know. Let users know where you’re lacking knowledge and what steps you’re taking to fill those gaps. Likewise, if possible, also let them know when and how you’ll provide future updates — but only do this if you’re confident that this will happen. (Don’t make any promises you can’t keep.)
3. Provide Relevant Information to Affected Individuals
It’s helpful to release a statement that provides an overview of the incident to make people aware of it. However, it’s also recommended that you personally reach out to those who have been affected by a cyber attack.
Be careful about what information you share with them. If you overload your customers with information that they don’t understand or don’t provide a complete explanation about the situation and how it impacts them, they’ll likely get stressed or frustrated. Both of these sentiments can ultimately result in additional loss of customer trust.
4. Provide Support to Users Who Have Been Affected By the Data Breach
Provide help to all the affected users and let them know what steps they need to take. For example,
- Provide all the necessary details that explains why the cyberattack took place.
- Explain all the steps you’re going to take to fix the present issue.
- Explain what steps you’ll take that will prevent such situations in the future.
- Give them all the necessary information to change a password, update their account information.
- Get a credit monitoring service to assess the extent of the damage.
Nonetheless, make sure your customers are getting all the help they need. Your customers will likely respond positively to the support.
5. Understand the Issue That Leads to the Cyber Attack or Breach
It’s your responsibility to figure out why your business lost its customers’ trust and take proper steps to resolve that issue. Sometimes customers tell you directly what the problem is and why they won’t deal with your company again. But many times, users move on to another company without saying anything. We recommend that you take customer feedback seriously and use it in a constructive way to improve your security and customer service.
6. Acknowledge Your Mistakes That Lead to the Cyber Attack
Once you recognize what mistakes have led to a loss of customer trust, take ownership without making excuses. By not acknowledging mistakes, businesses lose even more customer trust. However, acknowledging mistakes and saying a simple sorry can go a long way in helping you regain the trust lost due to a cyber-attack or data breach.
Though apologizing may seem simple, it’s essential in rebuilding the relationship with an unsatisfied customer.
7. Protect Your Customers’ Personal Information and Other Sensitive Data
It’s often overlooked, but a lack of data security is one of the biggest causes of cyber attacks. Often, critical user information is sent to the wrong person, leading to cyber attacks or data breaches. For instance, a major data breach occurred at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve when an email containing the unencrypted sensitive data of thousands of Marines, sailors, and civilians (including bank account information) was sent to the wrong distro list.
However, there are steps you can take to avoid making this same mistake:
- Set privileges for accessing customer data or any other critical information.
- Implement restrictions to allow only select users to send messages to distribution lists.
- Limit what data you collect and share from users. For instance, if you’re sending emails or newsletters, only collect necessary user information like names and email addresses.
- Encrypt all sensitive data before sending it via email.
- Implement an email security plan that includes steps for securely sending sensitive data via email.
- Use firewalls to analyze traffic that enters and leaves your network.
8. Give Control of Information to Customers
Once a data breach occurs and personal data leaks, it becomes hard for customers to trust again. But you can use this opportunity to regain your customers’ trust by giving them control to manage their data themselves. For instance, once you resolve the issue, respond to your customers with new passwords, or accounts that they can manage themselves after new and robust security measures gets implemented to prevent future attacks.
9. Tighten Your Website Security Measures
Once you find out what enabled the cyber attack, it’s recommended that you tighten your website security measures once a fix is in place. For instance, you can deploy the DigiCert Secure Site Pro SSL to proactively defend your website from hackers, help
- Boost the speed and performance of your website.
- Scan for vulnerabilities.
- Detect and removes malware.
10. Improve Network Security & Infrastructure
Most small businesses and startups begin with essential services provided by internet service providers (ISPs). While this may be sensible in the beginning as it’s cheaper than other options, but many ISPs don’t provide adequate protection with their basic plans, leaving startups and small businesses that use these services open to cyber attacks.
Nonetheless, if your website deals with credit card details or sensitive user information, we recommend that you choose to go with an ISP that offers comprehensive protection from cyber attacks. Likewise, it’s recommended that you follow process to protect your network infrastructure by taking preventive steps like not allowing unauthorized access, deletion, or modification of any resources and data.
11. Use Only Secure Website Hosting Providers
If you’re having a website that deals with credit card details or sensitive user information, then it’s recommended that you choose to go with a secure web hosting provider that offers comprehensive protection from cyber attacks (such as DDoS attacks).
For instance, hosting providers should provide you with monitoring tools, antivirus protection, and automatic updates. Likewise, for ecommerce security, your hosting should also allow you to make your website PCI compliance, so any issue don’t arise later.
Closing Thoughts on Recovering From a Loss of Customer Trust
Cyber attacks are increasingly common in all types of businesses. From small or medium-sized companies to large organizations, most deal with the issue at some point. Instead of fearing an attack, you should stay proactive and implement proper website security measures.
For instance, make use of CodeGuard Backup. CodeGuard Backup helps you make regular backups of your site so if anything goes wrong, you’ll have an up-to-date, clean version of your site to fall back on.
If you’ve been through a cyberattack and you’re among those companies that has lost customers’ trust, here we’ve mentioned some of the tips that can help you regain that trust. We hope it helps. Good luck!
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