Today Target announced a massive 40 million customer data breach. This is a large company and they are often targets of hacks and schemes to get at credit and debit card information. But what can we small business owners learn from this.
Trust is your business
As a small business person the trust of your customers is the most important factor in keeping old and generating new business. Your personal integrity and your relationships with people is what brings you business. You charge a fair price, you do good work, you communicate well.
You are responsible
Because you have good intentions won’t save you from a security breach. If the service you use has a breach then you, by association, are responsible. It’s your job to know which services are good and secure. People are anxious about their information. You have to protect it.
What to do after a security breach
Get in front of it. Be proactive and reach out to each customer that may be at risk. Over-communicate and work with your service provider to solve the problem. Look, eventually your clients will find out about it. If you try to cover it up it will show your clients you are more concerned about yourself than you are of them. That will kill a small business.
Don’t over-react. I have worked with a large company that was burned by a data breach and their reaction was to become internally paranoid and implement highly restrictive IT practices that did not add security value and slowed down their response to customer needs. Small businesses win because of their flexibility and speed. Be smart and effective, communicate well and pay attention to your service and process.
Develop a process for accepting payment
This does not have to be onerous. Walk through the entire process of how information is gathered, stored and who has access to it. For instance, if you have employees swiping cards on a smart phone reader make sure that you express the customer hands the card and they swipe it, verify it and hand it back. No going to the truck away from the client and returning it later.
This is not an employee trust issue but it is a demonstration to the client that you respect their privacy.
Market your respect for security
Use your attention to detail and find ways to share this with you prospects and customers. Don’t brag about it but share it with sensitivity and a caring tone. We all are at risk and if you have access to a clients home you would also make sure it is locked when you leave.