Experience Action

Cybersecurity and CX

June 25, 2024 Jeannie Walters, CCXP Episode 76
Cybersecurity and CX
Experience Action
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Experience Action
Cybersecurity and CX
Jun 25, 2024 Episode 76
Jeannie Walters, CCXP

Can transparency and authenticity safeguard your customer relationships during a cybersecurity crisis? In this episode, Jeannie Walters shares vital insights into managing customer experience amid significant cybersecurity incidents. We'll explore the necessity of open, honest communication and how to maintain customer trust even when service disruptions occur. Hear about adapting Voice of the Customer surveys to gather meaningful feedback without directly addressing sensitive incidents, and understand the importance of segmenting these surveys to better manage various stages of the customer journey.

But it doesn't stop there. Discover how strategic, proactive communication can make a world of difference, especially for high-value customers. From executive outreach to enhancing support channels and training staff in empathy—this episode is packed with actionable strategies to navigate and mitigate the impacts of cyber crises. Tune in for tips to turn a potential customer experience nightmare into an opportunity for strengthened loyalty and trust.

Resources Mentioned:
Learn more about CXI Flight School™ -- cxiflightschool.com
Experience Investigators Website -- experienceinvestigators.com
Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube -- youtube.com/@jeanniewalters

Want to ask a question? Visit askjeannie.vip to leave Jeannie a voicemail! (And don't forget to follow Jeannie on LinkedIn! www.linkedin.com/in/jeanniewalters/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Can transparency and authenticity safeguard your customer relationships during a cybersecurity crisis? In this episode, Jeannie Walters shares vital insights into managing customer experience amid significant cybersecurity incidents. We'll explore the necessity of open, honest communication and how to maintain customer trust even when service disruptions occur. Hear about adapting Voice of the Customer surveys to gather meaningful feedback without directly addressing sensitive incidents, and understand the importance of segmenting these surveys to better manage various stages of the customer journey.

But it doesn't stop there. Discover how strategic, proactive communication can make a world of difference, especially for high-value customers. From executive outreach to enhancing support channels and training staff in empathy—this episode is packed with actionable strategies to navigate and mitigate the impacts of cyber crises. Tune in for tips to turn a potential customer experience nightmare into an opportunity for strengthened loyalty and trust.

Resources Mentioned:
Learn more about CXI Flight School™ -- cxiflightschool.com
Experience Investigators Website -- experienceinvestigators.com
Watch the video version of this episode on YouTube -- youtube.com/@jeanniewalters

Want to ask a question? Visit askjeannie.vip to leave Jeannie a voicemail! (And don't forget to follow Jeannie on LinkedIn! www.linkedin.com/in/jeanniewalters/)

MC:

Experience Action. Let's stop just talking about customer experience, employee experience and the experience of leaders. Let's turn ideas into action. Your host, Jeannie Walters, is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker and founder of Experience Investigators, a strategic consulting firm helping companies increase sales and customer retention through elevated customer experiences. Ready set action. One, two, three, four.

Jeannie Walters:

You send me the questions and I'm the one who tries to answer. Now I'm so excited you're here with us at the Experience Action Podcast. I'm Jeannie Walters and I love getting your voicemails. We have another great question this week and I bet it's something that most of us will have to address in the near future. Let's go ahead and listen in.

Listener Question:

Hi Jeannie. I have a question about cybersecurity incidents and how a customer experience team might respond. If a company found themselves impacted by a major cybersecurity incident that disrupted service delivery, product availability and severely limited their customers' operations, how should that company approach its ongoing voice of customer efforts, especially when the company already knows there's a lot of dissatisfied customers out there? Would asking for their feedback about certain touch points, or even their likelihood to recommend the company, be poking the bear too much, or do we think that might be the best time to ask for feedback ever? Curious to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Appreciate it.

Jeannie Walters:

Cybersecurity. Now we are living in an age where it might not be if, but when this happens. I don't love being the bearer of that bad news, but that is the reality. We are seeing organizations dealing with these types of cybersecurity attacks or disruptions because of something that happens in every industry out there, including nonprofits and healthcare administration, education. Nobody is immune to this, so we have to be proactive. You know, I talk about how customer experience leadership requires us to be intentional and proactive, and this is no exception. Now, as I dive into this topic, it's important to say I am not a cybersecurity expert. I have, of course, dealt with this with different clients in different situations and I rely heavily on those folks, the chief information security officer if you have one of those, your data people, your cybersecurity experts, so this is something to consider and also partner with those experts that you have available to you. Now, in the situation that was described in this question, we really have to think about a major cybersecurity incident and what that could do. It will, of course, create significant disruptions maybe not for all customers, for at least some or many, and when that happens, there will be customer dissatisfaction. We have to acknowledge that and be prepared for it. The situation is delicate and really requires some nuance and a thoughtful approach to maintain and hopefully rebuild customer trust, while continuing to gather valuable feedback when appropriate and that last part is very important. So here are some ways that I would suggest you start considering a plan of action today for a cybersecurity incident in the future. Now, if you've been a part of this and you have more to add to this conversation, we love hearing from you. Go ahead and let us know your experience by leaving me a voicemail at askjeannie. vip. Let's jump in. Now, the first thing if we have something that happens we are in an age we have to be transparent, we have to be authentic. So the first thing we want to do is acknowledge the situation transparently. We cannot hide behind fine print. We cannot make it something that there, know we acknowledge without really saying what's going on to our customers. Now this is where it gets tricky, because we have legal departments, we have media teams who are giving us guidance, and sometimes they forbid us to directly ask about the cybersecurity incident, and there are reasons for that. So we have to listen to those experts. But it's also crucial to just acknowledge the situation, at least in a general sense, because what we don't want is for customers to feel on their own or even gaslit by the brand, thinking we know something happened, why aren't you talking to us about it? The lack of information can actually lead to a sense of distrust. It can chip away at that loyalty, and you know what humans do when we don't have information. We fill that vacuum with the worst case scenario. So if we don't want customers thinking the worst case, then we at least have to address and acknowledge you know what we are saying. Something happened. We can't go into details about it because of this, because we are in a situation where we are actively investigating and communicate about when they'll hear from you again. Communication should focus on acknowledging that there have been these disruptions and really expressing genuine empathy for the inconvenience and really the worry, the anxiety that goes along with this. Transparency fosters trust and we need to lean into that during these times. Even when we can't share details, even when we don't exactly know what's going on yet, we have to at least acknowledge it, the best we can do and a page from the police forces out there you know if they are working on a big case and there's a lot of media attention. You'll see a press conference and often they'll say we don't have a lot of information yet. We will have another press conference tomorrow at this time, and they're doing that because they want to set expectations. You will continue to hear from us. You don't have to keep reaching out. We can do the same thing. Keep reaching out. We can do the same thing for our customers. We can say we will send an update with any new information, even if we don't have any new information tomorrow at this time. Or please access our social media channels for the latest, or whatever it is. But we have to be transparent and we have to keep communicating. So that's number one. Number two we want to refocus our voice of the customer surveys. If we cannot directly address the cybersecurity incident, we still want to collect feedback that will help us act either today or tomorrow in a better way, and so sometimes that means looking at other areas of the customer journey. So some specific actions you might want to look into One is segmenting the surveys a little differently. We might want to target specific touch points that were impacted by the cybersecurity incident. We may want to target touch points that weren't. Look at those interactions and see. You know, what are people reporting in the group that was affected versus the group that wasn't? What are the differences there? What can we learn by comparing and contrasting those segments? For example, we may want to ask specifically about all customer service interactions, because that will tell us overall how much of an impact the incident is having on how people are feeling about getting the right information, feeling cared for, feeling valued, all of those things. So you want to look at not just segmenting the groups, but also segmenting where do we want to collect information? Now, you know, one of my rules about collecting feedback from customers is it's a big waste of time for everybody if you don't have a plan of action to use it. So if you have a plan of action, sometimes what that means is communicating within your organization. Saying to the leaders you know what this did have an impact on how customers are feeling. This may have a long tail on our customer loyalty. So setting expectations within your organization can be an action that you want to take. We also might want to look at customer sentiment a little differently. So those open-ended questions to capture general sentiment and feelings, or using some of the great AI tools out there to monitor social media and user reviews and things like that see what's changing there, based before and after the incident. We can also look for kind of general sense of how they're feeling with how can we improve your experience with us. Some of those really open-ended questions that allow them to just tell us what's top of mind. This allows them to share their concerns and suggestions. And if you have a bunch of those verbatims, this is again where AI can really help you finding what are people really feeling? What are the most common words they're using? If they're using things like I don't trust you or we're losing trust, or worry or anxiety or some of those, then that might tell you that more people are aware of this than maybe your organization even knows about. And if there are people in your sphere who are not affected by a cybersecurity incident but they're hearing murmurs, they will be worried about their own protection. So we have to again look for what are the feelings that are actually happening with our customers, even if we can't talk about the specifics here, and then it might be a great time to look at what metrics you're using If you are dealing with a flood of customer service issues. For example, if people are waiting in queues on the contact center, they are seeking information that maybe isn't there. They are trying to solve something. Maybe they have to do some resolution on their end. Customer effort score might be a great way to track very quickly, very quantitatively, how are people feeling about resolving the issues, how are we doing with this specific part of the journey? We want to access services that are best for our customers and figure out where in the journey will they be impacted and what will the expectations be for how we help them. And again, if you're looking at, okay, if we get this customer effort score and it's not doing so great, we have to look at how can we speed up the contact center queue, how can we get to first call resolution? How can we provide our agents and employees who are within this kind of battle zone right? They are getting one tough case after another. How can we support them? So all of these things are kind of levers to pull to make sure that you take the next action that will support your customers and employees. And then again, we want to proactively communicate, not just with those regular updates by saying this is what you should know, this is you know. We're going to do that, basically press conference every day or send out a message every day. We want to look at personalization here. How can we personalize messages, especially for high value, high loyalty customers, because the higher they go in loyalty, the harder they fall when things go wrong. So let's make sure that if we have those high value customers we are we are reaching out very personally to them, we are acknowledging and expressing significant empathy and understanding and helping them with that next step. So this could include things like you know what? Let's get a few of our executives to reach out directly. What can we do for the segment that has been loyal for a long time and we've never had this issue before? What can we do to reach out to them and help them understand that not only are we doing everything we can, but maybe we're going to offer something for them? I know some brands have done things like offer cybersecurity kind of insurance for high value organizations or customers. So think about is there something there that you can do to reassure people in this situation in a very, very personal way? And then all of this comes back. All of this customer communication has to come back to really explaining what you're doing so this won't happen again. And if we're only apologizing and we're only saying sorry for the inconvenience and we're not addressing the steps that we are taking to make sure this doesn't happen again, then that's going to again create that vacuum of information. So people will fill it in with the worst case scenario. So we want to acknowledge that it happened, be very empathetic about the inconveniences, disruptions and anxieties of our customers, and then we want to paint the picture of a better future. We want to say these are the things we're doing and this is what we believe will help us next time. We, you know, believe will help us next time. Now, if you have not gone through this already, this is your wake up call that it's time to create a plan. Have these communications as templates so that when the you know the stuff hits the fan, you actually have something as a jumping off point. This is crisis communication, it's crisis management. We learned so much about this the hard way during COVID, right, and so let's use those lessons to be proactive and intentional so that we can communicate in the best possible ways with our customers. We also, of course, if we have an issue like this, we are going to have a lot of customers who didn't have service issues suddenly have service issues. So the other thing to consider is how can you enhance customer support when these things happen? You want to boost your support channels, you want to ensure that your support channels are well staffed and equipped and just prepared for the increase in inquiries. And just prepared for the increase in inquiries, we want to offer those multiple channels for the different context of the situation. So having chat ready, having email, having phone support, having self-service options, having all sorts of different ways that customers can get what they need when they need it. And then, if we are staffing differently, if we are bringing in people who maybe aren't on the typical team, we want to make sure we have kind of a crash course in training on empathy. Train our customer service reps and anybody else who's pitching in. Remember we talked about those executives maybe reaching out. Let's make sure they understand what empathy looks like. It means understanding. It means listening first to understand and then really acknowledging that, yes, this happened and this was not fair and this is not something that we wanted our customers to deal with and we are prepared to address concerns, even if they might not be directly related to the incident. Right, customers get worried and they start having anxiety about things and they start asking about different types of situations. We cannot shut that down. We have to give people that channel to really work with us and experience empathy so they know that we're working on this on their behalf. So we want to boost those support channels and train for empathy. Now, training for empathy is something I hope you're doing anyway, but in these situations it becomes even more important. And then we also want to leverage indirect feedback. You know customers, of course will be reaching out directly and saying what's going on, what can I do, how can I protect myself? But there's also a conversation happening outside of those channels. So this is where things like social listening can be incredibly important and customer behavior analytics. How are they actually behaving? What are they doing? So, for instance, in financial services, one of the customer behavioral analytics we would want to watch for is what are they making more withdrawals? Are customers starting to freak out a little bit and trying to take their money out because they don't have that trust? That gives us information that can be an early warning sign about what might happen, and so we want to make sure that we are very tuned in to what are they saying on social, what is actually happening, what are some of the rumors that might be out there and how can we get involved proactively there. And then what are customers actually doing? How is their behavior showing us how they're actually feeling about this? What are those patterns and potential areas of dissatisfaction that might show up in behavior before they show up in feedback metrics? This is why, you know, AI can be incredibly helpful here. We have tools, we have platforms now that can raise the red flag and say this is different, this is trending up or down. What does that tell us? Now we still need very smart people. We can't just rely on AI. We need very smart people who can look at those signals and say, ah, we have to address this. This seems to be what people are worried about. Let's go out and talk to them. Let's go out and communicate. Let's go out and invite them to collaborate with us on these solutions. So this is where understanding your baselines around behavioral analytics, around that unspoken feedback that we talk about, on social media and user reviews and things like that. That's why this can be very helpful. If you know what your baseline is, then the trends become a lot more obvious to pick up on and you'll start seeing those signals earlier in the customer journey. So you might want to look at purchase behavior. Interaction with customer support can be another one, too. Right what is happening that might give you indicators of something that maybe you haven't even seen yet. Our customers sometimes see things before we do, and we have to trust that and we have to look for those signals. So these are really important and, frankly, scary issues that we might be dealing with, and so, as a customer experience leader, it's really important for us to lead with advocacy. We want to advocate for our customers. We want to say you know what? I don't want to be caught flat footed when this happens. Let's have a plan, let's have a strategy. That is a tremendous way that you can bring value to your organization as well. So, if you are in a situation as a customer experience leader where they see customer experience as a cost center, they kind of see it as tactical and nice to have, but not really important. This is a great thing to bring up and say I want to get proactive about this so that we have a plan in place, and doing so will help other people have their plans in place, if they don't already as well. So, while addressing specific questions around a cybersecurity incident, a specific one might not be feasible, might not be realistic. There are certain things we can do to be strategic here and to make sure that we're listening to our customers in ways that matter. So I know it can feel like sometimes our hands are tied by legal issues. Some of you might be in highly regulated industries, some of you might be in healthcare and dealing with HIPAA and some of those other privacy things. There are all sorts of constraints to how we can communicate with customers and what questions we can ask. We all have to deal with those limits. So what I want you to do is really think about what is it that we can do on behalf of our customers. What can we do to help them feel reassured and safe and protected with us? And if we can get there, then we can build loyalty with them. We want to make sure that in times of crisis, how we respond can actually make a significant difference in rebuilding trust and maintaining their loyalty. So if we're not prepared for that, then that could actually do more to erode the trust that we have that was eroded with this incident to begin with. So look at this as kind of an opportunity to maintain that trust and build that loyalty, and even if it's a you know it's a tough situation, no matter how you slice it, but maybe we can make it a little easier for our customers. Maybe we can make it so that they can sleep a little better at night. That is really meaningful and important, and so don't just hope this doesn't happen. Get yourself a plan, be strategic and think about how you, as a customer experience leader, can create a better world for your customers in a world where these things are going to happen. Great question. Thank you so much for exploring this with me and, for those of you who haven't yet reached out and asked that question, that has been, you know, top of mind for you. What are you waiting for? We are ready to dive in and tackle anything around customer experience or employee experience or leadership, so leave me a voicemail at askjeannie. vip. You can do that on your phone or desktop. Super easy. You can be anonymous. Or let me know exactly who you are and we will let you know when we answer your question o On the Experience Action Podcast. Now at Experience Investigators, our mission is to create fewer ruined days for customers. We do that through keynote speaking and workshops and coaching. We also have a community now with CXI Flight School, so check that out at experienceinvestigators. com and let us know how can we help you. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for these great questions and I can't wait to talk to you again soon. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience. Check out free resources at experienceinvestigators. com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our Year of CX program and more, and please follow me, Jeannie Walters, on LinkedIn.

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