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Walking in an enterprise customer’s shoes By Chris Hurst, General Manager of Kaspersky UK&I

In today’s uncertain and disrupted landscape, high-quality personalised service has become all the more important. And as our work and personal lives continue to merge, there has been an unrelenting rise for consumer-like experiences in the business arena too. Business clients increasingly expect to receive a personal touch as a matter of course. For enterprises and vendors, achieving this means working together to understand the customer journey, ensuring data is protected and delivering a high-level service that keeps enterprises’ partners and clients safe.

The need for change

The way enterprises communicate with their client base needs to change. Whilst many businesses have been happily hiding behind faceless email accounts for years, that is not enough to satisfy the modern consumer. This is especially the case for cybersecurity customers, who will be seeking reassurance at a time when most people are working remotely, which has drastically heightened the cybersecurity risk level. Personalised, face-to-face communication with clientele is crucial. Or at the very least, ‘Zoom-to-Zoom’. Recent Kaspersky research showed that channel partners want better relationships with the vendors they work with, so they can better inform their own end-users with more informed insights and advice, for example.

Research from McKinsey and Company last year found that business leaders in the UK rated the importance of digital communication channels to reach their business customers three times what they were before. Luckily, technology is on hand to help. Emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are providing more engaging and immersive ways of connecting with consumers in 2021 and beyond. However, as systems that transmit and store data, AR and VR must be treated with caution, with data breaches and denial of service attacks (DDoS) among the potential risks businesses face when using these technologies.

Back-end tech, front-end human

Whilst the quality of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms has come on leaps and bounds, when it comes to empathy and the ability to build trust, humans beat computers hands down. There is no doubt that in areas such as processing vast quantities of data, AI can be extremely useful. However, its use for client profiling can only go so far. Although data provides insight into certain patterns, it does not reflect every aspect of the relationship with the buyer. As no two consumers are the same, it is always best to think of it as back-end tech, front-end human.

Access to key customer data through sales enablement technology can provide valuable insight. However, this is the time for talk. By communicating with your clientele, you can get a better understanding of the processes they go through as part of their buying journey.

Building relationships

It is not just your end-user clients that you need to develop a relationship with; it is equally important to build close relationships throughout the entire supply chain. Research we undertook with the channel community last year showed that drastic change is needed within our industry. The survey found that more than half (56%) of IT resellers and distributors felt isolated if they heard nothing from their vendors, while two-thirds (65%) admitted they were finding it increasingly difficult to build relationships with vendors during recent, pandemic-induced restrictions. Given this difficulty – and with decision-makers often working from home and finding themselves bombarded with emails and webinar invitations – it makes sense to understand business leaders’ preferred methods of communication, to build strong relationships with other organisations. This might involve researching how best to make use of social media, for example, to fully understand how best to communicate with partners in the new world.

In business, as in life, relationships are key. Cybersecurity providers, however, are in a difficult position. They are respected and relied upon for their input and advice. After all, one mistake could have catastrophic ramifications for the company in question. They therefore need to tread the line between being a problem solver and a best friend.

Getting personal

Building trust and maintaining honest, open communication between all parties in business is imperative. Businesses must, therefore, place a far greater emphasis on putting the client first, and adopt a genuine, customer-centric approach. This also applies in the cybersecurity space, with vendors providing enterprises with a tailored experience and service level based on their readiness to transition to remote working in response to the pandemic, the level of risk they face and their existing cybersecurity posture.

Increasing loyalty and trust

Whatever the industry, it is important to understand shifting demands. For example, in the past year in our industry, companies have become vulnerable to a host of new attacks as a result of employees logging in to corporate resources from personal devices and on unsecured networks. This has caused brute-force attacks against the RDP protocol to skyrocket in almost every corner of the planet.

Vendors, IT resellers and distributors should walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. By doing so, they will be better placed to understand what drives them and to deliver personalised solutions that matter.  Once this is understood, companies can communicate effectively what it is they require from their security vendor. This will lead to providing long-term value to clients, addressing and anticipating their likely future requirements and ultimately increasing brand loyalty and trust for the longer term.