Communicating with customers in the modern world is something of a double-edged sword. The variety of communication channels makes it easier than ever to reach out. However, this convenience comes with greater opportunities for messages to be intercepted or even exploited.
So what is a business owner to do?
Follow these three rules for communicating with customers to ensure the security of their information and yours.
Rule #1: Share Your Communications Protocol
At the very beginning of every customer relationship, outline your communications process. Let customers know how they can expect to hear from you. Specify the channel (phone, mail, email, text) and the associated phone number or address from which your communications will originate.
Go the extra mile to provide an example of what your visual communications will look like. This allows customers to easily verify that the address is correct and that the information is valid.
Given the proliferation of phishing, it is critical to be abundantly clear about how you represent your business via email and online.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group report indicates that in the “4th quarter of 2014, a record number of malware variants were detected—an average of 255,000 new threats each day” in the U.S.
Phishing is a form of scamming that includes sending spoofed emails (typically embedded with malware links) claiming to be from a real business in order to convince recipients to provide personal and financial information.
Also, indicate the general frequency of such communications (i.e. quarterly, monthly, weekly) to further ensure customers are in the know. Add to this, prominent visibility of your business’ phone number(s) and email address. Customers must to be able to reach out to ask questions or verify any information associated with your business…without having to hunt for your contact information.
Rule #2: Explain What Not to Expect
While an unmarked service vehicle showing up at a customer’s home may make them take immediate pause, customers should be prepared to notice the most subtle of red flags. So whether your business doesn’t communicate with customers via text messages or your service personnel never collect payment information — customers need to be informed about your business practices. Simply put: the ways in which you do not operate your business are just as important as the ways you do. This is particularly true for anything that may impact customers’ personal or financial information. You’ll be empowering customers to question the validity of an interaction — helping them feel more in control of their security.
Rule #3: Introduce Your Vendors
If you use third parties that are customer facing, make your customers aware of which vendors you use. That way, if a vendor should ever contact your customers in any way or vendor information appears anywhere in relation to someone’s account, the customer will make the connection with your company. This avoids the potential for a customer to wonder, worry or waste time trying to figure out if the vendor is legitimate.
Customers may still have questions about a vendor, but your transparency will let them know to contact you. Unfortunately, even some large companies are guilty of vendor ignorance—and thus, aren’t always able to validate that they are associated with a certain third party. This is simply no way to do business.
All three of these rules follow the simple concept that open, clear, transparent communication with customers is best. It shows customers you care about their security and that you handle your business with competence and professionalism—all of which builds customer confidence and loyalty from day one.
Can you think of other ways to improve how your business communicates with customers to boost security? Share them in the comments section below.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.