Do Your Customers Feel Safe? Here’s How to Help

It’s not enough to make customers safe. I’ve worked with several businesses that did everything they were supposed to on the back end, including hiring IT security professionals, developing safer websites, and actively monitoring for threats—but customers never see the back end.

In addition to making customers safe, enterprises have to make them feel safe, which is arguably the harder of the two to accomplish.

Why “feeling” safe is so important
If customers get to your online store and feel like they aren’t safe—even if they are—they aren’t going to make a purchase. Even if they do make a purchase and everything goes through without issue, all it takes is one point of suspicion to make them apprehensive about shopping with you again. That’s why breached companies have such a hard time rebuilding their reputation—even though the company is taking all the proper precautions and most of the damage is already done, customers no longer feel as safe with them. Therefore, customer feelings of security are vital to both acquisition and retention.

The problem, as I see it, is that “feeling” safe is subjective, while “being” safe is objective. You can easily hire security personnel to verify that your customers are safe, but how do you gauge their feelings? Triniti explains that it’s all about collecting, storing and interpreting customer data in an efficient and accurate way. Take surveys. Talk to your clients. Make notes and aggregate your information to understand how your customers feel.

Strategies to build trust
What if you’re having trust issues? How can you make your customers feel safer?

  1. Show off your credentials. If you’re working with major security organizations, show them off with small “trust badges” that demonstrate your affiliation. As VWO notes, including trust badges can lead to a 32 percent increase in conversions—or more. Any credentials you have that prove your commitment to security should be in the public’s eye.
  2. Demonstrate your history. According to BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you have a wealth of satisfied customers, make sure your new customers see that. Explain how long you’ve been in business and how many people you’ve served. For new businesses and startups, this is difficult, but still, try to prove your track record.
  3. Serve multiple layers of authentication. Multi-factor authentication doesn’t just feel safer—it is safer. Forcing your customers to provide a secondary means of identification (like signing in with a specific device) gives them a tighter feeling of security and makes them more confident in your brand. It’s also not that hard to implement.
  4. Minimize redirects. It’s often tempting to build in redirects to third-party sources for verification, additional sign-in information or some other important function to your backend process. However, redirects can shake customers’ feelings of comfort. Try to minimize them whenever possible.
  5. Improve your site speed. Improving your site speed can give customers the impression that your site is modernized and fluid, and give them less time to hesitate about their decisions. It also gives them a better overall experience as an added bonus. CrazyEgg has a fantastic article about how to accomplish this.
  6. Accept multiple forms of payment. Accepting multiple forms of payment proves that you’re an established online business with a commitment to its customers. You’ll also earn reputation benefits by proxy; listing PayPal as a possible payment option will help your brand be seen with a similar authority as the payment giant.
  7. Be transparent about your security efforts. Finally, don’t keep all your security measures in the dark. Let your customers know exactly what you’re doing to keep them safe. You can make regular press releases or dedicate an entire page of your site to updates of your security features. The more they know, the more they’ll trust you.

These strategies are proven to help customers feel safer when they shop with you online—assuming you have first done the work to actually make them safer. In any case, the more attention you pay to your customers’ security and feelings, the more they’ll be willing to engage (and spend) with you, and spread the word about your company.

Anna Johannson, Writer

[ISACA Now Blog]

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