Customer Trust 101: A Primer for Security & GRC Leaders

Catie Farrow Neuwirth
January 11, 2023

It’s no secret that technology buyers, particularly in the B2B realm, have irrevocably increased their cybersecurity requirements. The influx of cybersecurity threats, and dramatic increase in hacker sophistication, have meant heightened vigilance on the part of business department buyers, procurement teams, and in-house security agents alike.

In response, technology providers’ security teams have made significant investments in increasing their cybersecurity measures, implementing new programs and approaches that aim to mitigate risk to their data and that of their customers.

At the same time, a growing group of Cybersecurity and GRC leaders have also spent time and energy on making sure that these efforts are known **by both internal stakeholders and the company’s customers and prospects. Not only are they laying a foundation of trust with their programs and perspectives, they are also developing measures to communicate that foundation to buyers, customers, and partners on an ongoing, proactive basis.

This dual focus on internal vigilance and external communication defines the movement by the cybersecurity industry to a budding new philosophy of “customer trust.”

Customer Trust Places Cybersecurity at the Heart of Business Strategy

At SafeBase, we define customer trust as a buyer’s lasting feeling of confidence in a seller’s security capabilities. This definition captures not only a requisite foundation of trustworthiness (i.e., a solid cybersecurity posture), but also the effort to develop an ongoing sense of belief on the part of buyers and customers.

Under this philosophy, the company’s cybersecurity posture is viewed as a critical aspect of business success, fully acknowledging its essential role in the company’s ability to win buyers and keep customers. It goes above and beyond the traditional work of cybersecurity teams to make intentional efforts to involve the customer (including buyers) and the company’s go-to-market teams.

Putting Customer Trust into Action

In practice, customer trust is the culmination of efforts that go above and beyond the development of a security posture. It also involves increasing transparency, shifting from reactive to proactive communication, seamlessly integrating security postures into the companies’ go-to-market processes, and developing mechanisms to continuously improve both their postures and their education efforts.

Organizations that are already investing in customer trust are, in various forms and fashions, developing processes and skills in five crucial pillars:

Transparency Proactivity Connectivity Control Insight
All trust programs and philosophies are well-articulated and easily accessible to the right parties All relevant information is provided to interested parties in an urgent and holistic manner Information is updated and communicated via seamless back-and-forth between vendor and customer Organization has real-time oversight into how information is accessed and utilized All principles are continuously improved upon through the use of back-end reporting and alerts

These five pillars manifest in the security team's mindsets, in the technology and platforms they invest in, and in the way they position themselves in the organization.

For example, these teams are developing “homepages” for their security postures that aggregate all buyer-critical information and documentation in one place, increasing transparency and creating a path to proactive communication. They are also streamlining the path for buyers to gain access to sensitive documentation while developing controls over who has access to what and for how long.

Meanwhile, they are forging stronger alliances with go-to-market teams, like sales and customer success, and taking pains to increase visibility of their work at the leadership level and beyond.

At its core, “customer trust” is an investment – led by the security team – in building solid and long-term relationships with customers that lead to heightened buyer confidence. These investments, in the short- and long-run, will give organizations a leg up in the future, as the trend toward heightened buyer vigilance and cybersecurity sophistication increases.

Click here to learn more about the small steps many organizations are already taking in the direction of customer trust, setting the company up to surpass the competition now and in the years to come.

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