data breach

Customer Communication after a Data Breach

Major data breaches have caused havoc in recent months for those responsible for customer communication. Companies such as eBay and Target have learned the hard way about the  problems that arise following a data breach in which their customers’ information has been compromised. Both of these companies have had to implement damage control measures after hackers stole valuable consumer data, including credit and debit card information. Yet these companies still continue to thrive, despite the problems that have made their customers unhappy.

It is important for people to understand that no company wants a security breach, so when it happens, the company is a victim too. And once the storm of the security breach rolls through, it will be time to undertake damage control to reassure customers that their information is safe and they should continue to trust the company. The way customer communication about a breach is handled will determine whether customers stay or go.

Tips for Customer Communication

Here are a few tips for addressing customers following a data breach:

  • Open communication. What customers want is open communication about what is going on. Let them know right away if there has been a data breach, so they can begin to cover themselves and keep tabs on their accounts. This gives them some power to help protect themselves. Waiting months or withholding the information about the breach will have negative consequences.
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    Respond to them.
    If there is one thing that will upset customers even more it’s not getting a response when they inquire about the security breach. Don’t ignore their questions. It is important that every concern is acknowledged and addressed so they feel they are being heard.
  • Explain measures. Let your customers know what you are doing to help ensure their information is safe in the future, without making the problem worse. But while you want to give customer some general information about how you are tightening security, you don’t want to give too much away, or you may be providing that information to those who hacked you in the first place. Explain as much as you can, but hold back the details so it doesn’t land in the wrong hands.
  • Apologize. Most people are forgiving by nature. By offering an apology for the breach of their information, you will begin to rebuild their trust in you. A sincere apology from the company goes a long way in maintaining customer confidence. A great way to do this is to have the CEO or manager featured in a video, so that customers can see and hear it, rather than just read it.
  • Work with a pro. It’s a smart move to hire a public relations professional who knows what to do to help your tarnished image. The right PR pro will know how to handle customer communication in crisis situations and rebuild customer confidence.

While you may not be able to completely avoid data breaches, you can minimize their impact on your customer base through effective customer communication.

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