Removing the Customer From the Digital Shell Game

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On any given day, most people — aka customers — with a computer or cellphone use that device to check in to see what’s going on in the world. What they see may be someone’s fabrication, but, even subliminally, it sets that person up to be receptive to that message. As a responsible business, it is important to think about the customer in a new way, making sure that customer is treated with respect and with a protective approach.

A recent 2017 account quoted the federal officials as praising Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer for being cooperative about sharing information about the massive 2014 hacking of hundreds of millions of the site’s accounts. Step back and think about that statement. Two years before, Mayer had admitted to massive hacking by cyberterrorists, allegedly sponsored by the Russian government, who had access to U.S. accounts and the data they gleaned from them.

For true customer service, any business should have immediately notified all clients involved and set up new security systems to reassure the customers.

When Is It Safe to Come Up for Air?
Anyone who was a victim of the Yahoo hacking has probably spent many hours closing accounts, trying to put their legal and financial house in order. When can they trust themselves to go back to “normal” — and what is normal?

What is true for victims is that they will gradually go back to normal, perhaps trusting the same sites again. They might begin to resort to using their old email contacts and digital connections. This leaves both parties vulnerable. Unless connections are cleared, checked and virus and anti-malware protected, a renewed use of contacts can create a problem all over again.

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A company that is at the forefront of today’s marketplace should be reassuring customers and finding ways to assist them with returning to some semblance of normalcy. Not business as usual, but true customer service that “takes the heat” for the problems and puts the company in the customers’ shoes.

What’s the Truth Today and Who Can I Believe?
Today, we might learn from the media, the White House, or a neighbor, that someone hacked something — be it verified or not. Where can someone find real information that has been verified?

It used to be that journalists were required to have at least two sources for any information they were publishing. With everyone a “journalist” online now, not necessarily with credentials, there is no verifiable source to make sure the truth is in the information produced.

Now, online is a murky world where almost anyone can make a claim, no matter how outrageous. By the time people have finished mulling over supposed facts, a new claim has supplanted the previous one, leaving people still thinking there might be truth to the first unsubstantiated claim. And cyber propaganda is rampant, fooling your customers into giving out their secure data.

Companies need to hold to the highest truth and make customer service the creed they follow — no matter what. Truth should not be a variable, but something that they honor as the value by which the company lives — and survives.

How Far Will Cybercriminals Go?
The short answer is: They’ll go as far as they can get away with it. Years ago, people joked that in some places, like in Chicago, the party in power used the names of people in the graveyard to augment their voter rolls.

Now, election machines can be hacked, and according to one 2012 election account, that was not going to be resolved by the 2016 election. All it would take was “a logic analyzer, an Allen wrench, and a screwdriver” to tamper with a voting machine.

In the case of the infamous “hanging chads” of the 2000 presidential election, just viewing something differently could change the outcome of an election.

So, when sophisticated hackers who are masters at invading cyberspace gain access, they can easily tamper with elections.

In 2016, just by sending out information they had selectively culled from illegal entry into accounts, like the Democratic National Committee (DNC), they were able to influence opinion. Hillary Clinton, who had been the frontrunner, lost. Recovering the election momentum was not possible because the timing was handled so cleverly. It was too late to turn around public opinion. People did not stop to think that the DNC was the victim and who the source of the hacking was. They were the victims of cleverly placed propaganda.

Translate this overwhelming sense of insecurity to how customers must feel about any transactions. What should be true for a customer is knowing they can trust you and your company to do right by them. That, even if technically your company did not scam them, your pledge is to honor true customer service and partner with them to make a bad situation better — as soon as possible!

Discrediting Untruth and Fake News
People love reality shows. And, we’re living in a reality show where the line between what is true and what is purported to be is blurred.

Most people just immerse themselves in the drama of the moment and refuse to consider whether what they are seeing is true or a reality show. Even reporters can influence how “real news” is seen by the way they interview people, the questions they ask, and how the recordings are edited. Labeling news as fake news changes the perception.

People who wish to find the kernel of truth must go back to the basics. Ask questions. Verify information. Compare details from different sources. Try Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detector Kit” to check for biases and unproven details.

And a company that is a true customer service success should be the name a customer fills in when they say, “I shop at X because they always treat me fairly and honestly.” How many companies can say they rate that accolade from customers?

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