• Phil Stravers

Viewing Cybersecurity Spending as an Investment in Consumer Trust.

Cybersecurity is all the rage right now. Insurance premiums are sky-rocketing, software vendors and security service companies are spamming your inbox ad nauseum, and the costs to protect your network and systems are rising every year. Sound familiar?

All of this can seem like a huge waste of time and resources. At the very minimum, it's likely a significant distraction from your organizational mission and goals.

Call me an optimist — but I think there is an opportunity to turn this around a bit.

Let’s agree for a moment that these cyber-threats are here to stay. Therefore, taking action to thwart them really isn’t an option. This is where the choice is presented to us as business leaders. We can either:

  1. Grumble about the cost and resist action, or

  2. Seek an opportunity to leverage it to our advantage.

As a guy who's spent some time in sales and marketing, I would suggest that the way we do the latter is by focusing on how embracing cybersecurity can enhance consumer trust.

One thing is for certain; whether you are a healthcare provider or a car dealer, you are “selling” trust. Your approach to cybersecurity can help to differentiate you from your competition in a good way (when you do it right).

The interesting thing I've found about this focus on consumer trust, is that it actually helps prioritize, validate, and align our cybersecurity investments in the way that best protects us from the real threats to our operations. So, it’s an all-around win!

To that end, I would offer 3 high-level strategies to invest in cybersecurity in a way that drives increased consumer trust:

Don’t just “check the boxes” to satisfy the cyber-insurance carrier.

Chances are, if you just give lip service or buy some software so you can “say” that you have implemented X or Y security solution — you're not only setting yourself up for greater liability, but you're also setting yourself up to look like a fool with your patients or customers. This means that leadership needs to educate themselves on risk mitigation solutions so they can be confident that what is being done presently really is more than lip service.

Leading by example with this education also has the benefit of communicating the importance to your staff, which brings me to my next point.

Invest smarter to demonstrate operational discipline.

Doing the real work of smartly investing in cybersecurity prevention can be a great way to demonstrate operational discipline to your staff and your clients. Smart investing goes beyond buying the right stuff. Having the operational structure in place to ensure those tools are performing properly and your staff is prepared to respond to threats appropriately can be the all the difference in mitigating risk. You must educate your staff on security and set clear expectations and policies that people actually understand and live out.

The great consumer trust benefit is that your staff will be more confident, and that confidence will show up to your consumers as professionalism.

Talk about the “why” more than the “what”.

Help your staff understand why cybersecurity matters and how much impact it truly can have on consumer trust. This way, when the patient or customer sees your staff member logging in with two-factor authentication or requiring that signature of approval (or whatever the security measure may be), they can help the patient or customer understand that the reason they do this is because it is in their best interest.

If you think about it, risk management has always been a part of running a sound business, and data security is just the latest headline grabber in the world of business risk. Maturing your operations and staff knowledge have always been core tenants of instilling trust among staff and consumers.

From my perspective, I see far too many organizations that are still very immature in their operational maturity as it relates to data security. If you want to stand out from the competition, don’t run from the data security challenges. Lean into them and you will be rewarded with less risk and more trust — which should lead to improved staff recruitment/retention and more consumer confidence.

If you would like to learn more about solutions and strategies to leverage good security disciplines as a tool for consumer trust, we would love to share our ideas and best practices with you.

Phil Stravers, Chief Growth Officer

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