Data Security

Is there really a trade-off between security and customer experience? (part two)

By Nicola Pero 15 February 2021

Welcome to the second and final instalment of our two-part blog series, where we continue to focus on why data security compliance should be a customer service priority in your organisation and not just a box-ticking exercise. (Catch up with part one here.)

Looking at the bigger picture

In many cases the introduction of newer, more secure customer journeys can benefit the customer experience by reducing the amount of fraud that customers are exposed to.  Fraud provides a terrible customer experience when it happens, and it is often worth having a slightly longer customer journey if it helps with avoiding fraud. For example, better validation of people’s identities in an online platform for renting homes would result in fewer episodes of fraud and so ultimately in a better customer experience, even if it means an extra step during the customer registration process.

So when considering the impact of security changes on the customer experience it is important to focus not just on a specific customer journey but to consider the bigger picture too. While some journeys might become slightly longer or slightly more cumbersome, the bigger picture might be one of an improved customer experience thanks to the reduction of fraud.

How “hidden” security supports customer trust

Finally, not all system security is immediately visible to customers. The way systems are configured, the way data is processed, the way the staff that manages the systems operate, and the culture of the organisation that manages the data are very important factors for security but they are not immediately visible to customers. Customers typically only find out that the security at a company they were interacting with is poor when the system is breached and their data gets stolen.

Security breaches dramatically damage the customer trust and hence the affected brand. Customer experience doesn’t get much worse than finding out that a brand betrayed your trust and allowed your data to be stolen. Customers whose data was improperly handled by a company are much less likely to interact with that company again.

So this is an area where it is obvious that security and customer experience go hand in hand. Better security behind the scenes reduces the chances of a damaging security breach and results in a better customer experience in the long run.

Companies that are selecting suppliers to help with their digital communications might find this issue difficult to deal with because it is difficult to evaluate the security of a new, unknown supplier without doing an extensive technical audit. Unless you have some insider knowledge of the supplier you should make sure that they have a good security certification such as ISO 27001 and have a good security track record over a long period of time. The type of companies a supplier already serves and the types of service they provide to them can also provide an indication as to the level of security you can expect them to already have in place, as these existing customers could have audited the supplier for the services they currently provide.

Improving security and customer experience at the same time

In summary, it is absolutely possible to improve security and customer experience at the same time:

1. A well-designed customer journey will incorporate security steps in a way that makes the customer feel more comfortable and more secure without obstructing the customer journey, thus improving the customer experience.  Well designed security steps are not a nuisance but give confidence and peace of mind to the customers.

2. Re-engineering customer journeys and their implementation in a better way by using better technologies or by rethinking the journey flow can achieve an improvement of security and of customer experience at the same time.  The customer experience could be improved during a particular journey or, via the reduction of fraud and other security issues, it could be improved across the lifetime of the customer.

3. Good “hidden” (system and process) security does not have a visible impact on the customer journey but it improves customer experience in the long-run by reducing the chances of a security breach, which is very damaging for customer experience and trust.  Selecting suppliers carefully is key in achieving this.  ISO 27001 certification, a good security track record, and an existing palette of security-conscious, demanding customers are good indicators that a supplier has good secure practices in place.

Learn more about how we can help you manage your data to improve security and customer experience – contact us today.

See other posts by Nicola Pero


Nicola Pero is the Chief Technology Officer and has been with the company since 2000. He is the driving force behind the company's highly successful and innovative technology and products. Nicola studied theoretical physics at university and was very active in the open source and free software community for almost a decade. He more recently completed an MBA at London Business School.

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