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Securing customer communication is best left to experts

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Every day, several times a day, customers trust businesses with their personal information. A single transaction can generate reams and reams of data. Identification numbers, physical addresses, phone numbers, bank account details — a customer parts with all these and more during a routine transaction.
Some of the information that people trust businesses with might even be deeply personal, such as details of medical treatments and finances., writes by Greg Gatherer, ‎executive head at Striata Document Solutions.
The sensitive nature of this information makes the trust that customers extend fragile and likely lost forever if a business allows their data to fall into the wrong hands. Yet businesses routinely put this trust on the line when they communicate with customers.
In the rush to establish digital channels to customers, far too many businesses have been lax about ensuring that these channels are secure. Email in particular, because of its convenience and cost effectiveness, has become the preferred means of communication.
Businesses routinely send millions of customer statements and invoices by email without even a password let alone encryption or other security measures. It is unsurprising then that South African companies surveyed in the 2017 Cost of Data Breach study had the highest estimated probability of experiencing a material data breach over the next 24 months compared to companies in 12 other countries.
The study put the average total cost of a data breach at US$3.62 million — including indirect costs from losing customers.
The great irony is that beefing up the security of a company’s document management processes costs a fraction of this. The primary reason why many businesses don’t make this investment is that they are not aware of or do not fully grasp the vulnerabilities they expose through the management (or lack thereof) of their customers’ personal documents. Which is why it is best to rely on experts to conduct a full security review and to devise secure solutions for the distribution and storage of personal documents.
A small or medium-sized business might, perhaps, find the exercise of getting experts in to design a bespoke solution too expensive, even though a data breach would be many times more expensive.
However, bespoke isn’t the only way to go. Other customisable document security products are available for much less. It is best to opt for one that does not compromise the quality of the customer’s experience. Better yet, one that enhances it. After all, the documents a company creates and shares with customers are an important face of the business. A good document security solution should still allow the documents to be accessible and the process convenient for customers.
An interesting finding in the Cost of Data Breach study was that South African businesses were more successful at keeping customers after a material data breach compared to their international peers. That is great news. Our customer retention strategies work, even in the event of a data breach. But for how much longer? Waiting to find out is a bad idea.