Why cyber security matters to customer management

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a lot of changes in society – particularly when it came to moving more of the interactions between people and brands online. Many companies were pushed over a ‘digital tipping point’, changing them forever. The pandemic had a similar effect on consumers too, with more people turning to digital services than ever before.

While the greater use of online offerings is good news for brands on many fronts – particularly from an efficiency and engagement perspective – it is nevertheless a double-edged sword in many respects. For one, it places more pressure on the security of companies’ digital footprint.

Cyber security only tends to hit the news for bad reasons – a customer database has been hacked, a brand’s social media presence has been taken over, or a business website has been taken down by an attack. Yet, when everything works fine, few people pay any attention to a brand’s cyber security efforts. 

Arguably, though, it deserves more day-to-day attention than ever before. Recent data from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Cybsafe showed that one in four internet users have been the victims of identity theft. Nearly half of the respondents to the research said they were always connected to the internet and, despite being so familiar with online services, more than one-third admitted they had lost money or data through a phishing scam. 

Brands are equally at risk. A survey from Venafi indicated that 81% of companies had a cloud-related security incident in the past 12 months. When you are the victim of one cyber-attack, it tends not to be a one-off event: a global study by Cymulate suggested two-thirds of companies that suffered cyber incidents were hit again within a year. 

Why cyber security matters to customer service

It should go without saying that businesses have an obligation to handle any data provided to them by customers with huge amounts of care. If they fail to do so, it can result in a serious trust problem between brands and customers. 

A study from Centrify found that two-thirds of data breach victims lost trust in the organisation holding their information. Worse yet, another piece of research showed that, when asked if they would stop doing business with a company that has fallen victim to a breach or cyber-attack, 75% of the people surveyed said ‘yes’. Perhaps as a direct result, a 2020 report from FTI Consulting found that businesses expect a 9% decline in global turnover as a result of a cyber security or data privacy crisis. 

At the same time, however, customers want a smooth and seamless experience from brands’ online offerings. That means a number of different features, built around quick authentication, a responsive digital experience across all types of devices, and an easy log-in process. 

Of course, not all of these are conducive to strong cyber security measures. In fact, stringent security often hinders seamless customer onboarding and navigation – particularly in sectors such as banking and finance. 

How to build customer-friendly cyber resilience  

Brands have a tricky balancing act to strike between offering excellent customer experience supported by strict security processes. But it is not an impossible task if they take the right steps to ensure their cyber resilience is robust and keep their customers front of mind.

Many cyber attacks begin with or are caused by human action – whether it is a case of an insider helping bad actors or merely a lapse in someone’s attention. Building awareness into your teams, both in IT departments and beyond, and educating staff is a key component of any cyber resilience strategy.

With that cultural foundation in place, there are a range of steps you can then take to prevent and mitigate against the damage cause by cyber-attacks. The first of which is having strong cyber security policies. This means they should be user-friendly, evolve over time, and account for inevitable incidents of human error.

Similarly, if you are a large, public-facing organisation you should expect to be the target of hackers. Having plans to proactively and properly respond to data breaches is a critical part of any good cyber security strategy, including implementing threat intelligence, establishing security hygiene practices, and using behavioural-based analytics. 

From a customer service perspective, you also want to ensure that all points of contact are secure throughout their journey. You can do this by composing customer personas and designing their journey through a typical interaction with your brand, using strong governance measures, and building multifactor identification into registration processes, among a range of other steps.

Another point to consider is the use of a community of ‘ethical hackers’ to test the strength of your IT infrastructure. These are professionals who understand the way bad online actors work and use that to help businesses with their cyber security – they can be an invaluable resource.

Comdata’s cyber security offering

Ultimately, cyber security needs to be aligned with your overall organisational strategy. However, ensuring your business partners are committed to cyber security is just as important as prioritising it within your own organisation – particularly for any outsourced business processes. 

At Comdata, we know that protecting the security of our entire business ecosystem – our clients, their customers and our team members – is critical and we treat it as a top priority. We are meticulous about applying the highest level of data and IT security standards to everything we do as an organisation.

Across all our geographies and operations, we have designed and deployed a global cyber security model to ensure a highly secure environment that meets international regulations on data privacy. As well as being GDPR compliant, we have a range of internationally recognised certifications, reflecting our high level of security standards and commitment to operational excellence, including: 

  • ISO 27001: Information security management system
  • PCI DSS: Credit card security
  • ISO 10002: Customer satisfaction quality management
  • ISO 22301: Business continuity management

Like any business that takes cyber security seriously, we are constantly evolving our cyber resilience. We are always looking to enhance our cyber security measures and continually improving our approaches to ensure the safety of our IT systems and data.

Having strong cyber security is more important than it has ever been, but brands also need to keep their customers front of mind. Both of these factors should work together to create a safe and enjoyable customer experience for the increasing number of people interacting with brands online. 


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