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What motivates a customer to buy from you again and again? Each department in your organization would argue it’s their efforts inspiring customer behavior: a great product, great marketing, great sales, etc. In reality, it’s the combined efforts of your organization driving one common goal: customer trust.

Customer trust is critical to the success and growth of any business. At SafeBase, we believe there’s an under-acknowledged driver in this discussion: cybersecurity.

In our increasingly connected world, cybersecurity underpins an organization’s credibility. Customer trust hinges on absolute consistency in an organization’s security efforts — the sharp increases in threats, hacker sophistication, and data breaches have redefined every vertical’s relationship with it. It is the make-or-break element putting pressure on business department buyers, procurement teams, and in-house security agents. 

As a result, customer trust and cybersecurity are converging into a single, unified focus for mid-market and enterprise leaders alike. The growing awareness of data risks, transparency around product integrity, and market demand for trustworthy solutions have inspired strategic shifts toward earning and maintaining customer trust using cybersecurity.

This article explores:

  • What is customer trust?
  • Why customer trust is important in the enterprise
  • How to build customer trust
  • The relationship between customer trust and cybersecurity

What is customer trust?

At SafeBase, we define customer trust as a buyer’s lasting feeling of confidence in a seller’s security capabilities. While it may feel elementary, it’s important to understand that customer trust starts with the foundational layer of actually being trustworthy.

Influences on customer trust

Customer trust is the result of repeated positive experiences, open communication, and ethical behavior.

To understand customer trust requires knowing what trust is itself — setting expectations, opening paths to interaction with your company, communicating your promise to meet set expectations, and then taking action to fulfill those promises. Customer trust is built with time and is the building block of successful customer relationships.

Customer trust, like trust in any realm, is difficult to earn and easy to lose.

Why customer trust is important in the enterprise

Technology buyers have become more discerning in their assessment of vendors’ security postures. Even after an agreement has been reached, trust erodes if security is not reinforced, often spelling the end of a relationship. 

Customer trust is the foundation for stronger relationships, loyalty, and sustained success. When customers trust your company, they’re more engaged with it, more vocal about it, and more forgiving when incidents inevitably happen.

Benefits of customer trust in today’s environment

Customer trust is a critical component of both winning new customers and retaining existing ones. 

An inherently low level of customer trust will translate to lower deal fulfillment and higher churn. A strong level of customer trust will reduce churn and increase renewals/new deals. It’s one of the most important qualitative indicators for the health of your business.

Customer trust builds a sense of security with your brand, reducing uncertainty to increase loyalty and advocacy. Without it, maintaining long-term relationships and repeat business is impossible. So how is customer trust built?

How to build customer trust

Customer trust can’t be achieved overnight — it cannot be bought, forced, or faked. This is why it presents such a strong challenge (and opportunity) for every business. It requires ongoing effort to build and maintain strong customer relationships. Customer trust takes consistent demonstrations of trustworthiness via business actions, communication, and overall customer experience. To develop it takes a focus on several concerted tactics.

Fulfill on promises

This is where the expectation dynamic of customer trust comes into play. One important aspect of trust is delivering on promises, i.e. meeting buyers’ expectations. If you’re a cybersecurity leader, this also means going beyond expectations to take an active stance in customer relationships. By proactively communicating with customers — whether it’s as simple as updating customers on improvements, or as serious as a company response to a potential breach — customer trust transforms from a passive to an active tactic.

Be transparent

Transparency is defined as “being easy to perceive or detect.” For leaders, this means moving security information out from behind the proverbial veil and embedding it within buyer and customer communications. Evergreen documentation and ongoing communication should be organized, well-articulated, and easily accessible, reducing any customer hurdles to understanding your company’s security protocols and procedures.

Prioritize connection

Customer trust, at its core, is powered by intentionality — purposefully making each interaction, decision, and experience as open and frictionless as possible. As a cybersecurity leader, this means reducing complications in the third party risk assessment process and eliminating excessive back-and-forth in security reviews. However, prioritizing connection is as much about what happens after reviews — inquiries, concerns, and the flow of information should be communicated seamlessly between vendors and customers.

Segment control

At the core of all systems, security teams should be in control of sensitive information and documentation — not the customer, or even other internal stakeholders. Segmented control sets clearly defined parameters around who receives access to what information, and for how long, along with consistent oversight of established control. This maintains the expectation of accuracy and privacy of secure information, which enhances customer trust.

Empower top-to-bottom alignment

Customer trust must be a top-to-bottom aligned effort, and cybersecurity teams must push to increase the visibility of their work at the leadership level and beyond. Every initiative and decision should be made with the intent of forging stronger alliances with go-to-market teams, including sales and customer success. Only then can an entire organization capitalize on the opportunities of cybersecurity and customer trust, despite increasing buyer scrutiny and antagonist sophistication.

The relationship between customer trust and cybersecurity

Cybersecurity threats are no longer anomalies — they’re the biggest challenge faced by companies managing customer data and privacy. Customer concern continues to grow around the protection of personal information. Organizations that prioritize cybersecurity are more likely to gain customer trust. 

This happens because customer trust and cybersecurity work in a positive feedback loop. A solid cybersecurity posture reinforces the integrity and ongoing sense of belief (expectations) on the part of buyers and customers. The reinforcing relationship between customer trust and cybersecurity elevates the traditional work of cybersecurity teams and reflects the true value of their efforts: improved trust, and thus, reaching the company’s strategic goals.

Outcomes of customer trust and cybersecurity

As market uncertainty and security complexities continue to evolve, businesses that stay vigilant about cybersecurity are, inherently, staying vigilant about customer trust. Investing in cybersecurity creates a cascading effect of business outcomes: shortened deal cycles, higher-value contracts, and stronger long-term customer confidence.

Forward-thinking security and GRC leaders make significant investments in developing strong security postures and then take the extra step to proactively roadmap the advancement of customer trust through cybersecurity.

SafeBase is the scalable Trust Center that automates the security review process between buyers and sellers. With a SafeBase Trust Center, companies can seamlessly share sensitive security documentation with buyers and customers, including streamlining the NDA signing process by integrating with your CRM and your data warehouse. 

If you’re ready to take back the time your team spends on security questionnaires, create a better buying experience, and position security as the revenue-driver it is, get in touch with us.