You thought your customers would have your back forever—then again, wouldn’t you do the same? According to a recent study by Gemalto, 70 percent of customers would stop doing business with a company if it experienced a data breach.
Most often, cyber attacks and data exposure are rapids that can’t be avoided, and these lead to customers jumping ship to competitor brands. But don’t just weather the storm, build trust and keep your customers by establishing a program of proactive security.
OPPORTUNITY: Most small businesses approach cyber security as a preventive practice to keep threats at bay and defend critical information. However, according to a study conducted by Vodafone, 86 percent of high-growth companies view information security as an enabler of new business opportunities, rather than strictly a means of protection.
RECOMMENDATION: While cyber security used defensively—to protect the business and its sensitive data—is good, this position creates a response that is always reactive. Instead, follow the advice of 89 percent of organizations; invest in proactive security to gain a competitive advantage that helps your small business win customers and keep them after a breach.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
61 percent of small businesses have growth on the agenda
69 percent of small and medium sized companies are already realizing the impact of security
Reasons why cyber security is protein to build up the business
How to stay out of the headlines and publish your own
89 percent of businesses say security wins customers
How to adopt proactive security and earn customer trust
Gartner recently conducted a study1 of approximately 500 decision makers in US small businesses and asked respondents to report their immediate and future business priorities.
Here are the primary business goals of SMB respondents that rose to the top:
Small businesses want to grow!
- Grow Revenue
- Grow customer base
- Grow regional and global presence
Every small business wants to take over the world. And typically, small businesses look to the usual avenues of world domination: building up the sales funnel, marketing, advertising, and investing in customer relationship management software. But their overlooking a major growth opportunity: security.
86 percent of high-growth companies view information security as an enabler of new business opportunities, rather than strictly a means of protection. The reason investment in security should be making this shortlist alongside HR, CRM, and other popular software is because when it comes to security, the risk is much more urgent: 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a data breach are out of business in six months.
To avoid disasters and gain competitive advantage you need to treat security proactively, on the same plane of prioritization as recruitment or sales enablement. This includes an end to thinking about security as an afterthought and more as a top-of-mind practice.
If you don’t take action, your competitors surely will. According to Gartner research1, 69 percent of small to medium sized businesses are already realizing the impact of information security, and altogether, 93 percent of businesses acknowledge its significance within 2 years.
Cyber security when used proactively provides an essential nutrient to business growth: trust. This is how highly customers, partners, and influencers regard your brand’s integrity, trustworthiness, and the security/compliance of their data. Trust helps you win customers:
- 89 percent of businesses said that improving cyber security would enhance customer loyalty and trust.
- 90 percent said it would enhance their reputation in the market, potentially attracting new customers.
Here are examples of these benefits.
Your small business needs to invest in proactive security to avoid joining the roll call of companies in the headlines whose data privacy blowouts flattened customer trust.
The reality is proactive cyber security can establish reputation and build brand trust; essentially, cyber security—when done right—can publish positive press about your business.
Jacob Dayan, CEO and Co-founder of Community Tax, a finance and accounting company, talks about the power of trust earned from quality data security, and how this trust benefits the business.”Trust Leads to Referrals – One of the most effective forms of marketing is a satisfied customer. When a customer trusts that their sensitive information is safe with you, they are more likely to come back time and time again.” Said Dayan.
According to Dayan, trust is contagious and extends beyond a single transaction.
“Trust in your company often leads these customers to refer your services to their friends, family, coworkers, and sometimes even complete strangers. While cyber security is a necessity for keeping your customer’s information safe, it has the added benefit of turning loyal customers into your very own salespeople.” Said Dayan.
Making a reputation for your small business as a secure place gains you customers who organically grow your business.
Cyber security investments are also a place where you can see ROI extend past passive protections and into building brand trust.
According to Sam Howard, a Director at Magaluf Tickets, a ticket sales company on the Island of Mallorca, making buys in better security have resulted in more business. Howard explains how gaining an extended validation SSL certificate for the website paid off with more than just better security:
“This not only secured our servers from a whole host of different cyber security flaws but also visibly shows to our customers, in their browser url bar, that we are a professional business.” Said Howard.
These examples affirm the data: according to 89 percent of businesses better information security is a competitive differentiator that would help them win customers and grow the business.
Your small business should not simply defend your sensitive data and systems. You need to approach security proactively. On behalf of your customers, create visible presentations of trust like an HTTPS certificate, write testimonials about your security commitments, and be honest and forthcoming with your customers if you fail.
To build a more security minded company with high growth potential, cyber security needs to become an everyday exercise—not a quarterly, or worse an annual risk/reward assessment to slow-drip security resources.
OUR RECOMMENDATION:Here are four best practices to put proactive security into effect today and keep your customers:
1. Consider data security in all major business decisions like technology investment and staff recruitment. Do it in less relevant areas from product campaigns to brand shifts—there may be security concerns you haven’t considered.
2. Promote a culture of proactive security to root out shadow IT and promote employee compliance. Recognize superstars leading the way for peers.
3. Don’t become complacent. Even if you feel safe, that doesn’t mean you can ignore keeping an eye out for emerging technologies. Quality security is about future-proofing, maintenance, and continued attention—at the very least, know if your firewall is up-to-date!
4. Security breaches happen—accept it and be honest. But, if your cyber security is proactive, you”ll be able to point to your efforts as evidence that your organization took all reasonable precautions and carried out credible due diligence.
Learn more about small business cyber security
- GetApp Catalog of Security Software
- Et tu, Coworker? How to stop security breaches caused by employees
- HTTPS: What it is and why it matters
Information on Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for SMBs Survey:
1Gartner conducted this survey in April and May 2017 among 699 U.S.-based SMBs, with more than 10 employees and annual revenue of less than $100 million. The survey excluded nonprofit organizations. The qualified respondents are decision-makers, or have significant influence on the decisions related to purchasing technologies for their organization