No matter what type of company you run you faced enhanced threats from unscrupulous actors. A theme we worked through in the last few posts was on building a secure future for your brand. We focused on various threats to your brand from cybercriminals to thieves who endanger your assets. A bigger aspect of building a secure future for your brand relies on protecting your reputation from threats that have nothing to do with laws or the type of company you run. There’s a natural intersection between protecting your assets and protecting your reputation in that losing the private data belonging to customers and employees exposes your brand to reputational threats that can do much more damage than losing other assets of the business.
In my last post, I focused on understanding various threats to your assets and how much damage they can cause. We focused on how to avoid these threats. Today, I’ll focus on tips to help you overcome problems when the actions of criminals or unscrupulous consumers threaten your livelihood and that of your employees. So, read on to learn about building a secure future for your brand.
Building a secure future for your brand
An obvious place to start in building a secure future for your brand is to reduce the possibility of threats to your assets from criminals. As mentioned, cyber-attacks often become publish knowledge and threaten your reputation, even driving customers to choose other brands they feel offer better security for their information. In addition, consider the threats to your reputation when a poor review shows up or when customers cut down your brand on social media. Online reputation management is a must as well so you can get the trust back.
We’ll deal with each of these issues below.
Building a secure future starts with a cyber security policy that’s strictly enforced while monitoring your systems for vulnerabilities and threats to harden your system to make it harder for criminals to invade your system. Employee training and policies help protect your system from common tools used by criminals such as phishing attacks. Phishing involves sending fraudulent emails purporting to come from legitimate sources to request information from the receiver. For instance, the email might appear to come from your bank requesting your change your password at a site owned by the scammer who now has access to your account information or contains an invoice that appears legitimate but collects personal information as well as stealing your money for fraudulent invoices.
This type of attack might not stop at collecting personal information but collect information, such as organization passwords, that allows the criminal access to your business system. Once inside your system, the criminal has access to your internal documents to collect personal information on customers and employees, can place fraudulent orders to divert your assets to their location (this is especially serious when your products are carefully controlled such as orders for weapons and drugs), can cause your systems to operate outside of normal tolerances (for instance, causing damage to your machinery), or even allow criminals to hold your entire system hostage until a ransom is paid.
You can reduce the possibility of phishing by instituting the following policies:
- Require secure passwords such as ones including letters, numbers, symbols, and capitalizations. Require employees to change their passwords on a regular basis.
- Train employees to detect phishing attempts and set up a reporting system for addressing any attempts detected.
- Require multi-factor authentication that often thwarts scammers who only gain access to the password.
- Control access for remote users or those using their own devices at work. For instance, installing a VPN helps protect your network when employees log in remotely.
- Back up your system remotely to protect from ransomware.
- Update your system software frequently.
- Monitor and test for vulnerabilities.
Bad reviews and social media slams
Let’s combine these two types of negative publicity together since the effect is nearly the same whether the bad review shows up on your website or whether users post negative content about your brand on social media since 58% of users report using social media to influence purchase decisions.
First, determine whether the review or slam is fake or comes from a failure of your brand to uphold its bargain to consumers. Ensure everything you promise a customer is delivered by avoiding making pie-in-the-sky promises and setting up processes to ensure you deliver on those you make. Ensure your customer service deals with dissatisfied customers quickly as this diffuses their ire while doing everything possible to make them whole again, even at a loss to your company on the transaction. In the long run, the cost of a dissatisfied customer who submits a bad review or talks negatively about your brand on social media is bigger than the cost of making them whole. Better still, your policies should ensure no customer is dissatisfied.
Consider negative reviews as opportunities to improve your brand and to build a better relationship with customers. Responding to their concerns, offering a solution to their situation, and showing how you plan to address their issue moving forward actually binds customers to your brand.
In the end, if you do a great job of providing top-quality products that meet your customers’ expectations and quickly addressing any perceived failure, you’ll have a bunch of positive reviews that outweigh the few negative reviews posted by folks who just aren’t happy with anything. I once worked on a project for Disney where community members were so enamored with the brand, they squelched any attempt by nay-sayers to denigrate the brand.
Next, come those fake reviews posted by competitors or trolls whose only goal is to damage you in some way. That includes disgruntled employees so reduce the incentive for employees to post negative comments about your brand by treating them fairly and ensuring they’re happy in the first place. Competitors and trolls are harder to manage.
One way to handle these dedicated detractors is to require verification before someone can leave a review of any type. For instance, Amazon displays whether the review actually purchased the product as part of the review and commonly lowers the appearance of reviews from unverified buyers to lessen their impact. this won’t stop the dedicated nay-sayer but it stops trolls who don’t want to invest in their efforts.
In no circumstances should you engage with fake reviews or even argue with real reviewers that they’re wrong. You only bring more attention to the negative review through your arguments and give them credibility in the minds of those seeing the review. In some cases, you can bring a civil suit against those posting negative reviews for the express purpose of damaging your reputation or report them to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission or similar in your own country). However, recognize that such legal efforts may cause the negative reviews to spread more effectively than simply ignoring them and cause more damage than good.
Building a secure future for your brand means managing your reputation and I hope the tips shared above help you build an effective brand that increases revenues over time.
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