How to Tell Customers You’ve Been Hacked

The risk of a security breach grows daily. The best way to deal with the fallout

 
Written by Advisory Board

Welcome to Advisory Board, a weekly department in which a panel of experts—made up of entrepreneurs and professionals—answer questions you have about how to run your business better.

This week, a reader asks:

“I run a B2B services firm. Recently one of my employees fell for a phishing scam and some customer data may have been compromised. Should I inform my clients, and how do I regain their trust?”

Here’s what the experts have to say:

“As my dad used to tell me, €˜when in doubt, communicate.’ If things go sideways, you’ll lose any trust you had with this client the moment they find out you knew and didn’t tell them. As scary as it may seem, honesty is the best policy here. However, if you take full responsibility and are honest, chances are excellent that you’ll actually strengthen your client relationship.  I’ve seen shaky client relationships turn into lifelong friendships all because someone took the high road when something went wrong.”

—Mark Wardell, president & founder, Wardell International, Vancouver

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“You have an obligation to inform your clients about this. Clients worth keeping will regain faith in your company if you inform them honestly about what took place and the the steps you have taken to mitigate the incident. However, if they find out some other way, the risk is that they will turn to other providers and never will trust you again.”

Pernille Fischer Boulter, CEO & founder, Kisserup International Trade Roots Inc., Halifax

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“How would you feel if your information was compromised by a supplier and they didn’t inform you? If you are honest up front your clients will have no reason not to trust you moving forward. If you don’t tell them what happened, and they find out some other way, you will never be able to regain their trust.”

John Wilson, founder and CEO, CEO Global Network, Toronto

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MORE ADVICE FROM OUR EXPERTS:

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com

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