Blog by Nathalie Schooling
Scams are nothing new. People have been pulling the wool over each other’s eyes for centuries. But in today’s digital realm, it feels like consumers need to be extra careful and vigilant before they click on anything!
In the business world, scams are a serious threat to a company’s reputation. And the worst part is, most of the time, it’s the fault of a third party with whom a company has absolutely no affiliation. Add to this advancing technology, and scamming customers is only becoming easier and more commonplace.
For me, what it all boils down to is TRUST. How well do your customers or clients know and trust your brand? How safe do they feel doing business with you? When the wheels come off and your business is the victim of a scam or a zealous hacker, is your brand strong enough to survive it, and your customer loyal enough to be wise to it?
Something doesn’t smell right
Let me give you an example. Over the December holidays, I spotted discounted cooler boxes from Filedbar across various websites. Fieldbar is a premium brand that makes and sells hand-crafted outdoor products. I’ve always been a fan of their offering, so when I saw their products marked down on other retail sites, it immediately raised a red flag in my mind. Turns out, I wasn’t crazy for thinking they were being overly generous with their slashed prices (even during the festive period, it still seemed odd), as a few days later I received a mailer from Fieldbar explaining that it had been a scam.
Although it appeared to take them a while to ‘catch-on,’ or be alerted to the scam, kudos to them for handling the issue so proactively. Blasts of communication went out on all their social platforms, together with direct emailers as well as a notice on their website informing customers about the scam and confirming their list of authorised resellers.
The real praise, however, is in acknowledging the strength and integrity of the brand. As a customer, I knew something wasn’t right as this didn’t look like or sound like the business I know and trust, so I steered clear. Sadly, however, the poor unsuspecting souls who had no previous dealings with Fieldbar would not have been so lucky. This brings me to my next point.
Can’t touch (point) this!
Existing customers are far more likely to know something is up since they have frequent dealings with your company. So how do you get around ‘new’ or prospective clients falling prey to an unwanted scam at the expense of your brand name? The keyword here is touchpoints.
If you can identify each and every current (and potential) touchpoint where a customer comes into contact with your brand, it’s easier to ensure that safety and security measures are in place, especially on the proactive side of things (NB!). This requires a lot of planning or customer journey mapping, but the effort far outweighs the risks.
Just last week a friend of mine forwarded me an email she got from ‘Netflix’ to say that her account was on hold. Apparently, they had noticed that there was an issue with the previous month’s payment on her subscription and that to continue the service she needed to update her payment details within the next 24 hours or her membership will be lost. All sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it? Anyway, no surprise that the email was utter nonsense. With an email address ending in freshworksmail.io, c’mon, you have to give us customers a little more credit than that?
My point, however, is that email is an extremely powerful customer touchpoint. This friend of mine is not even a Netflix subscriber, ( i.e. could potentially be a future customer) but it does create some doubt to know that the brand’s name is being used to fool innocent people, even if they aren’t directly involved. It would serve the streaming platform to stay on top of these sorts of scams and issue relevant communication about such cons across their platforms. As a subscriber myself, I have yet to hear from Netflix warning about any fraudulent activity on their behalf.
In closing, here’s a brief checklist of things a business can consider to help mitigate the risk of getting caught up in a scam:
- Build brand trust – not just with current customers but build up awareness and credibility so that even prospective customers know what you stand for, even from afar.
- Know your customer touchpoints – frequent customer journey mapping goes a long way here. Understand exactly where your customers are engaging with your brand and what areas of interaction are potential risks for scams.
- Stay on it – just as you’ve secured the safety in one area of your offering, another could be vulnerable. You can’t afford to let your guard down. Remember, scammers are always one step ahead.
- Handle with care – if your business is a victim of a scam, how you cope and recover is critical. This is where communication is key. Take accountability if you need to and assure your customers that you have their best interests at heart.
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