Tips for Talking to Customers After a Data Breach

Talking to your customers after a data breach can seem like a monumental task. You typically must act quickly to retain their business and protect your company’s reputation. While it can be challenging to navigate such a situation, talking to customers in particular ways can help.

1. Establish Cyberattack Communication Protocol

Around 83% of companies will experience a data breach. It’s fairly common but can still significantly impact your organization and customers. They face an increased risk of credit card fraud, scams or identity theft once attackers compromise their information. You must create a cyberattack communication protocol if you don’t already have one.

Aside from securing your systems and network, your first step should be to make a plan of action and a statement outline. Consider how you’ll contact them and what information you’ll release. Additionally, establish a timeline you’ll follow.

Doing so is critical for maximizing consumer retention. Although data breaches can be expensive to control, you may also face losses when people take their business elsewhere. For example, ransomware attacks alone cost companies millions of dollars annually due to their financial and reputational impact. Reaching out to customers as soon as possible is essential.

2. Notify Customers About Data Privacy

Only 18% of people feel companies are transparent about consumer information usage. Regaining their trust after a customer data breach is essential, so you should be clear with them about how you store and use it. For instance, you could publish a statement telling them what types you collect and the purpose for doing so. They may be more understanding once they know.

Even though your information privacy policy doesn’t directly connect to the data breach, taking additional measures can help. Many initially feel vulnerable, so they’ll likely want more clarity to feel secure. Providing them with legitimate reasons for collecting their information can put their mind at ease.

3. Understand Legal Obligations

You must understand your legal obligations before moving forward. They affect the extent and speed of your response. For example, every state and territory in the United States has requirements regarding how companies notify others about a customer data breach. You may have to alert certain government agencies, your business partners or even the media, depending on the information you handle. Ideally, you should inform everyone. Being transparent throughout the process can help you seem more trustworthy.

Prepare an in-depth statement if you must go to news outlets. Briefly explain how the data breach affects everyoneand what you’re doing to minimize its impact. Give consumers actionable steps on how they can best protect themselves. Also, consider sending a data breach letter to customers beforehand or along with the media statement.

4. Go Through Multiple Channels

You should send a data breach letter to customers through multiple channels to ensure they receive it. For instance, you could inform news outlets, publish information on the organization’s website and send emails. Notify as many people as possible immediately to ensure they can better protect themselves against fraud. They’re more likely to feel secure with your company if they face no adverse consequences from the situation.

5. Publish a FAQ Page

You should create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on your organization’s website. For example, you could state what information the data breach compromised, why it occurred or how people can protect themselves against fraud. Include everything you can think of to cover your bases. Your customers will likely have many things they want to ask, so it can help inform them. Also, it can keep your corporate email and phone line open to other pressing matters.

6. Reaffirm Customers of Security

Around 2,640 data breaches occurred in the United States from 2020 to 2022, compromising over 1.8 million records. Since there’s always a possibility one may impact your business again, your customers may not feel secure with you. To retain them, you must reaffirm your commitment to their security.

There are several ways you can do this. For example, you could explain how you’re implementing new measures to protect information better in the future. If you already have plans or have taken action before you notify everyone, mention it in the data breach letter to customers. They must know how vital their security is to the company.

7. Send Consistent Updates

You should frequently update your customers. Even if they understand how the data breach affected them initially, they may still be concerned about their information security. If you want to retain them, you must make them feel secure. For example, you could explain any new cybersecurity measures you’re implementing. Help them understand how you plan to protect them moving forward.

Open Communication With Customers

Making public statements after a customer data breach can be challenging, but you can take steps to make the process easier. Establishing a cyberattack communication protocol, reaffirming people of your security commitment, and routinely publishing updates can help your business increase retention and maintain its reputation.