Igor Akhmetov, Head of Customer Support, META & APAC at Kaspersky, writes an exclusive Op-Ed column for Tahawultech.com, where he highlights the best cybersecurity customer practices in 2023.
In 2023, customer support in cybersecurity requires a combination of technical expertise, effective communication, and proactive problem-solving. And I believe there is a strong parable to how bees tirelessly work to protect their hive, and how customer support in cybersecurity functions as a safeguard for individuals and organisations.
For example, just as bees are known for their constant vigilance in protecting their hive from potential threats, customer support in cybersecurity remains watchful, monitoring for any signs of software malfunction. Bees work collaboratively in a hive, each performing their unique tasks to maintain the hive’s integrity. Similarly, customer support in cybersecurity relies on collaboration within the team and across departments. They share knowledge and collaborate with incident response specialists. Additionally, bees communicate through intricate dances and pheromones to convey vital information within the hive. And while perhaps not buzzing in dance, effective customer support in cybersecurity certainly excels in communication, whether it’s explaining complex technical concepts to customers or sharing crucial updates regarding security solutions. Clear and concise communication is essential in both cases.
To ensure the bustling and humming remains homogenous, here are some points to consider in cybersecurity customer support this year:
#1 No surprise, time is key. As are empathy and customer education. Customer support in cybersecurity should prioritise providing timely and accurate responses to customer inquiries. Offering multiple channels of communication, such as phone, email, and chat, caters to diverse customer preferences. To ensure effective support, maintaining a knowledgeable and well-trained customer support team is essential. Additionally, emphasising empathy and customer-centricity is crucial during possible incidents, as it helps to build trust and reassures customers.
#2 Avoid ineffective support. Generic or automated responses that fail to address specific customer concerns should be steered clear of. Blaming customers or downplaying their concerns, even if they made mistakes leading to an incident, is counterproductive. Communication should be prompt and responsive, as delayed or non-responsive communication can increase customer frustration and damage the company’s reputation.
#3 Prolonged security incidents due to inadequate support can result in increased damage. Customers may lose confidence in cybersecurity vendor’s ability to protect their sensitive information, leading to customer churn and a damaged reputation. Negative word-of-mouth impacts the company’s brand image and hinders new customer acquisition.
#4 Always measure the effectiveness of customer support. For instance, response time measures how quickly customer inquiries are acknowledged and initial responses are provided. Resolution time tracks the time taken to resolve customer issues or incidents effectively. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) gauges the satisfaction level of customers with the support received. Net Promoter Score (NPS) assesses the likelihood of customers recommending the company’s support services to others.
You often hear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the future of cybersecurity. However, it should be noted that the role of human experts in both customer support and incident response for cybersecurity is crucial and currently cannot be fully substituted by AI/ML. While there have been significant advancements in AI and ML technologies and these technologies can be valuable tools in automating certain aspects of customer support, there are several reasons why human expertise and emotional intelligence are indispensable:
- Contextual understanding: Incidents with security software often require a deep contextual understanding of the specific situation. Human experts can analyse complex scenarios, consider the unique factors involved, and make judgment calls based on their experience and expertise. They can take into account the broader context, including the company’s infrastructure, industry-specific regulations, and customer-specific requirements, to provide tailored solutions.
- Critical thinking: Incidents are dynamic and can involve intricate patterns and ever-evolving threats. Human experts possess critical thinking skills that allow them to identify patterns, analyse data, and make informed decisions related to incidents. They can assess the severity and impact of an incident, apply problem-solving techniques, and adapt their strategies as the situation evolves.
- Emotional intelligence and empathy: Dealing with incidents can be stressful and overwhelming for customers. Human experts possess emotional intelligence and empathy, allowing them to understand and address the emotional needs of customers effectively. They can provide reassurance, support, and guidance, helping customers navigate the incident with confidence and trust.
While AI/ML can augment customer support by automating repetitive tasks, analysing large datasets, and providing initial responses, the human element remains essential for complex problem-solving, critical thinking, empathy, and building trust with customers. Combining the strengths of human expertise with the capabilities of new technologies can create a powerful synergy that enhances customer support in cybersecurity.