Security, Compliance

Turn IT Security Compliance into a Trust-Building Opportunity with Customers

Chaz Hager February 07 2024

Oftentimes, our default mindset around compliance and regulations is defensive. You maintain compliance because you have to, so you don’t get hit with penalties and fees.  

There are many reasons it’s helpful to shift your mindset around compliance. For example, once you begin to think of compliance differently—as beneficial even—you can better engage your employees’ active participation and engagement in hitting compliance standards.  

Employees aren’t the only people critically impacted by compliance either. Your customers, partners, and vendors are too.  

In this blog, we’’ll explore how considering your customers’ perception of your business’s compliance with IT security regulations can actually help you build trust and improve your relationships with them.  

Your Customers Want to Know Their Data is Safe with You 

A helpful exercise with compliance is to think about your own data and information, both personally and professionally. When you buy something online, for example, you do so when you know you can trust that the shop—to the best of their ability—is protecting your sensitive financial information. When you submit medical records or engage in a telehealth appointment, you trust that your information is going to be protected and remain confidential. And when you form a business partnership with someone, you take steps to ensure your business’s IP and other important data is kept secure.  

Your customers naturally expect the same from you. Whether those conversations were explicitly held or not, your relationships are built on mutual trust—which includes trusting that your business is at a minimum, doing everything that is legally required of you to keep their information secure.  

Breaches and cybersecurity incidents happen, as there will always be bad actors. But it’s your business’s responsibility to be prepared with a strong security defense—and your customers are trusting that you are. Which is exactly why IT regulations and compliance standards exist: they’re created with information protection in mind. In this way, you can also view them as a helpful guide that lays out exactly what systems and software you need to have in place for your specific industry and business. 

Turn Compliance into an Opportunity 

Because compliance is a requirement, it's easily left unspoken. You might assume your customers know you’re keeping up with compliance standards, or perhaps they’re already being communicated in a more formal, legal manner.  

Yet while you might assume they’re a given, it’s still beneficial to communicate the steps you’re taking to stay compliant. Every type of business has different standards they have to meet. Your customers may be familiar with what they must adhere to but are less familiar with your industry’s regulations. Not to mention, compliance standards are ever evolving, and your business must regularly maintain compliance as requirements change.  

Each deadline and status renewal presents you with an opportunity to remind your customers how dedicated you are to maintaining compliance precisely because you value your relationship with them and with it, their sensitive and confidential data. This is also an opportunity to remind your customers of the other security measures you take, outside of compliance, as another piece of evidence pointing to your dedication.  

It’s true what they say, that out of sight means out of mind. Yes, compliance is required of you. But by simply communicating your positive mindset towards it—the one that shows you understand its benefits and how it impacts and protects your customers—you can turn compliance into an opportunity to build and maintain trust with your customers.

Publish Your Standards 

On that same note, it’s valuable to publish the seals or certificates of the compliance standards you meet or the regulatory bodies that uphold them. Put these seals on your website, in pitch decks, on marketing and sales collateral—anywhere they can be helpful sales tools for you. When they are up front and center, they work as another layer to emphasize the importance you place on IT security and customer information safety.  

Prioritize Transparency 

You can take your communication around compliance and security one step further by providing even more transparency into how you keep their information secure. Security should be layered into every piece of your infrastructure, and just as communicating about your compliance helps build trust, so does expanding on it in more detail, with more openness. Being transparent and proactively communicating with your customers about security helps them see the culture of security you’ve built internally, and again, just how seriously you take it as well as how much you value their business. 

Similarly, when a vulnerability is identified, you can build trust by proactively communicating with your customers, being transparent about the vulnerability and the steps you—or your MSP—is taking to secure it. Anytime you’re working with an external, third-party security expert or testing party, you should communicate this as well; third parties help build trust and credibility.  

Lastly, in the case of a breach, it’s important to be upfront and transparent with customers as well. Just as with communications regarding vulnerabilities, you should let them know the who, what, where, and when of the breach, as well as how you’re working to address it.  

Breaches still happen, but when you have been actively communicating the security layers your business has built in, the compliance standards you are regularly reviewing and meeting, and your plan of action in a security event, your customers will be far more forgiving as you’ve built that trust with them that you are doing everything you are required to and can to protect their information.  

Of course, you could be—and likely are—doing all these things already, even without a customer communications plan. But when you say all these parts out loud, put them in writing, and regularly emphasize your dedication to it, the difference is that then, your customers hear it, repeatedly, and build the knowledge that you are doing this work and that you value their data security. This is what builds trust. 

This is critical, as how you’re managing your customers’ information security before and after can be make-or-break for your relationships and reputation. For example, a Centrify study found that 65% of data breach victims lost trust in an organization as a direct result of the breach, while IDC found that 80% of consumers in developed nations will defect from a business if their information is compromised in a security breach. Another study found that 85% tell others in their network about their experience. 

It’s why how you manage security at any point—before, during, and after a breach—can be the difference between maintaining customer relationships and managing your reputation. It’s why its important to set the tone that you value security from the beginning, and regularly remind your customers of the actions you’re taking as a matter of business. Of course, an Incident Response Plan is just one important piece of security and compliance. For some compliance standards, it’s even a requirement. Yet you can also use this not only as an opportunity to be prepared before a breach or security event occurs, but to build transparency and trust with your customers from its foundation.  

Need to Get Started? 

Compliance is important but can also feel overwhelming, as can all things IT security. 

Get our step-by-step guide to getting started, so you can go from paralyzed and unprotected to armed with the information you need to execute, with our 7 Steps to IT Compliance Checklist. 

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