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4 Security Measures Appointment-Based Businesses Should Implement This Year

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Security Measures Appointment Based Businesses Implement

Many modern businesses are placing a heavy emphasis on cybersecurity, and with good reason. With so many aspects of life taking place in the digital realm these days, it’s more important than ever to be careful with company data and personal information on the internet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should slack off on physical security measures for your appointment-based business.

Sad though it is, there are real dangers in the world you need to be ready for. It’s best to adopt the attitude of expecting the best while preparing for the worst. With that thought in mind, here are some security measures that your appointment-based business should consider putting in place this year:

1. After-Hours Security

Depending on the nature of your business, you may carry stock or supplies that offer an attractive target for thieves. For example, hair salons across the country have long been victimized by crooks who steal costly hair extensions, causing thousands of dollars in losses. Most such incidents will occur after hours when there’s no human presence to deter mischief. You can keep your guard up and dissuade misbehavior by installing a few gadgets and security measures in your place of business.

Auto-locks on doors will ensure that a back door for employees is never left unlocked by accident. Security cameras on the exterior and interior of your business will catch thieves or vandals in the act and also act as a deterrent that will cause those up to no good to think twice before trying anything. Motion-sensor lights are often enough to spook potential robbers away, illuminating faces for security cameras and giving the impression that someone might be nearby.

You can also install cameras and a lighting system on the inside of your business that will at least help you track down anyone who successfully breaks into your building. Be sure to have adequate locks on filing cabinets and any other places critical information might be stored. A break-in could result in information being stolen, so you want to make sure your business is protected. You might even go as far as to store customer information on hard drives that are locked up separately.

2. First Responder Connections

Establishing a good relationship with your local first responders is always a good idea. With this relationship in place, you can share plans you have developed in case of any sort of emergency situation. Being familiar with your place of business means that responders can be exactly in the right place at the right time when needed.

For example, you might reach out to your local police station and ask to arrange a short meeting with a representative. You can give them a walkthrough of your business, its alarm system, exit points, and any other factors that seem worth pointing out. This outreach will enable officers to more effectively address any security issues that occur even if they beat you to the site. Trained responders can also provide an accurate risk assessment to help you strengthen the security of your business.

3. Emergency Planning

As noted, an emergency plan is something you can share with first responders, but it’s also something you should always have on hand for yourself and your employees. Consider the emergencies you could potentially face — a catastrophic weather event, a hostile intruder, a flood, etc. — and develop response protocols for each. You never want to have to face an active shooter or an incoming tornado, but you’ll be much better off if you have a plan set beforehand.

A common example many establishments have is a fire escape plan posted throughout the building. The next time you take a trip, you might notice that your hotel room has a map showing you where the nearest fire exit is located. This isn’t because the hotel is expecting a fire to occur, but because they want to ensure everyone is kept safe should disaster ever strike. You should follow their lead to help ensure the safety of your customers and employees.

4. Adequate Insurance

You might not be able to thwart every single security threat you face. In that case, you’d better be insured. Insurance will help mitigate the cost of theft and damage that might occur to your business so that you don’t take too many financial hits.

There are several different types of business insurance you should look into, such as liability insurance, practitioner’s insurance, and auto insurance if you use a company car. You can even get data breach insurance for a cyberattack. Your insurance agent can explain the types of coverage you need, including some you may not have thought of. Then you can take the steps required to get protection as soon as possible.

It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry you didn’t do more to boost the security of your business. Rather than wait until the worst occurs, start implementing security measures today that will keep your business, your employees, and your customers safe.

Image Credit: Dan Nelson; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Cybersecurity Protocols to Add to Your Appointment-Based Business

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Cybersecurity Protocols Appointment Based Business

Running a business in the 21st century provides access to so many useful tools. From electronic mail to online appointment software, technology makes every aspect of business so much easier. However, there are some cybersecurity dangers of relying so heavily on technology that you should be wary of.

Cybersecurity threats cost businesses trillions of dollars annually. That’s right, global corporations are losing trillions of dollars due to different forms of cybercrime. You can lose a lot of money and credibility when data breaches occur in your own organization. Small businesses, in particular, can be delivered massive blows as they often lack the necessary resources to recover from a cyberattack.

To survive in this day and age, you need to add these cybersecurity protocols to your appointment-based business as soon as possible. This guide will walk you through what each of them entails and why they will be of benefit to you and your customer base:

1. Require Two-Factor Authentication

Most organizations require at least one form of identification in order to book an appointment. More often than not, all that is required is a username and password used to access some sort of customer or patient portal. While this is better than using no barriers at all, you can do better.

Two-factor authentication is gaining popularity among businesses because it’s a simple addition that adds a lot of extra security. In addition to the username and password, customers need to use an additional method of verification before booking an appointment or making a payment. This can be done by accepting a security code via email or text message in a matter of seconds.

Thanks to two-factor authentication, anyone trying to access your customer’s account will be stopped in their tracks unless they also have access to their smartphone or other devices. This extra barrier to entry doesn’t take up much extra time for the consumer, but it’s enough to fend off most intruders.

2. Implement Security Programs

There may be times when customers need to input sensitive info when booking an appointment or updating their customer portal. You hold a great responsibility to protect any information that customers share with you. Implementing digital security programs will help your customers feel safe and protect the information you collect from them.

For example, you can force visitors to your website to open a new secure window using a security program whenever they need to enter sensitive information. This is a strategy many banks implement to prevent the risks associated with account information.

Of course, there is a certain amount of responsibility that consumers need to take when handling their personal info online. Still, the company in question will almost always be the first to be blamed if data is ever breached. Don’t take any chances and use a security program to keep your customers as safe as is within your power.

3. Secure Your Mobile App

In addition to protecting customers using your website, you should also make sure to keep the mobile resources you use safe. In particular, if you offer a mobile app, you should have security options enabled and even required for consumer use.

Common security options for mobile apps include requiring an account ID with a PIN, including a secret word chosen by the customer, or even FaceID for select devices. Each of these options helps to keep customer accounts secure in a variety of situations.

Another feature you should consider implementing is automatic inactivity log-out. This feature boots customers off of the app or website if they are inactive for a period of time. This reduces the risk of someone having time to access their account in person or hack into it online.

4. Safeguard Your Network

Your cybersecurity protocols should extend all the way to your lobby. If you offer complimentary Wi-Fi to your guests, you should only do so on a secure network. Public Wi-Fi is notorious for being insecure and an unsafe browsing option. So, you don’t want your place of business to be an example of that.

Start by making sure your physical equipment is in a secure location. You can spend a lot of time working on the digital side of security, but someone with physical access to your internet router can override all of that.

Next, you can start working on the digital side of things. Put up an extra firewall, require login for internet use, and separate the access points between your business hardware and personal devices in your lobby. Keep your software and hardware updated, and you shouldn’t encounter very many problems.

One should never take cybersecurity lightly. You would be frustrated if a business you patronize lost your personal data, so don’t let a data compromise happen to your customers on your watch. Implement these protocols without delay and continue to look for ways to keep your security as strong as possible.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Show Customers You Care About Their Privacy

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Trust is the currency of every relationship, including those you have with your customers. Establishing it early is key for closing sales, while maintaining it over time lets you build loyalty. 

Among a host of other factors, ensuring your customer’s privacy is crucial for trust. Just because people often agree to privacy policies without reading them doesn’t mean they don’t care about privacy. 

Without trust, relationships deteriorate when they hit a rocky patch. Imagine that, god forbid, your company faced a data breach. Customers who trust you to make things right will continue to do business with you.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike. The smart move is to proactively address your customer’s privacy concerns. Here’s how to do it:

1. Conduct a privacy audit. 

In order to allay your customers’ privacy concerns, you need to assess your company’s current protocols. If not, the security promises you make will be viewed as empty. Your ultimate goal is to protect your customers, not merely to convince them that they are protected.  

Start with storage: Where do you house customer data? Who has access to that system? Is its software updated and patched properly? 

But storage is just the start. Think about transference. Beware of: 

  • Third-party programs that take liberties with your customer’s data 
  • A lack of encryption software
  • Insecure information exchanges between employees
  • Printouts tossed in the trash before being shredded

2. Make privacy policies accessible. 

No matter how strong your privacy policies, they won’t generate trust unless your customers can access them. Post them on your website, print them out for new customers, or do both.

Making the information accessible means breaking it down in ways every customer can understand. To promote accessibility:

  • Don’t put privacy information in legalese.
  • Use summaries, headers, and highlights to make your policy skimmable.
  • Include a contact number for comments and questions. 
  • Offer policies in multiple languages, especially those common among your customer base.

These steps cater to “privacy actives,” who make up about a third of your customer base. Deeply engaged with privacy matters, these people will switch companies if they feel their privacy concerns aren’t addressed.

3. Go above and beyond with tips. 

Beyond featuring your privacy procedures on your website, give customers tips on protecting themselves. This demonstrates an investment in their lives beyond what they can do for you. 

Realize this also benefits your company. Customers who are more careful with their own data won’t do things that create liabilities for your company, like send sensitive data to you insecurely. 

What privacy content should you be creating? Everything from changing passwords frequently to tweaking privacy settings on social media is fair game. Point them to data security blogs they may be interested in. 

4. Welcome criticisms and suggestions.

Despite your best efforts, there will always be a customer who insists on stricter privacy controls. Maybe you institute 128-bit SSL encryption — but a customer asks for 256-bit, the type many banks use.

Invite these conversations. Not only might you get some easy-to-implement suggestions, but actually addressing them shows you care about your customers’ feedback

What if you can’t implement a certain security measure? Be transparent about it. Explain why you don’t think it’s needed, or why it simply isn’t cost-effective. Suggest workable alternatives, such as exchanging information in person rather than by email. 

5. Provide avenues to opt out.

You never want to make your customers uncomfortable. If they don’t want their data shared with a certain partner, give them that choice. Let them say “no” by submitting a written opt-out to parts of your policy they object to. 

Remind customers, however, that certain types of data collection are critical for your service. For example, you can’t send text-based appointment reminders to customers if they aren’t willing to give you their cell phone number. 

Balancing privacy and convenience often means making trade-offs. Work with your customers to decide what they’re comfortable with. Allow them to change their minds with written notice, especially after you change how you store or use their data. 

Everyone wins when you store customer data securely. You’re able to improve your marketing game, send reminders, and offer promotions your customers want. Your customers, in turn, don’t have to fill out the same form every time they step into your place of business. 

The keyword is “securely.” If you don’t keep your customers’ data under lock and key, you risk losing loyal customers and even facing legal liabilities. Don’t take the risk. Safeguard their privacy, and make sure they see you doing it. 

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