The following is adapted from The Smartest Person in the Room.
Clients want to know that the people they hire to handle their cybersecurity care about their unique issues and understand their concerns. So when your technical employees lack empathy — and they make it obvious to clients — it can be a real problem for your company.
Non-Empathetic Technical Employees Turn Clients Away
You can’t be right there to touch your customers and clients physically. Still, an empathetic listener with knowledge about your company can lay to rest many cybersecurity fears for your clients.
Not only will your technical workers fail to create effective solutions if they don’t understand a client’s problem, but they might even drive potential clients away before they decide to do business with you.
If you want more satisfied clients for your company and fewer miscommunications, you’ll want to train your technical employees in the finer arts of empathy.
A Lack of Empathy Hurts Employee Performance
First, it’s important to understand why empathy matters in serving cybersecurity clients. Who cares if we care?
As cybersecurity professionals, we need to empathize with our clients and put ourselves in their shoes to provide the best, most effective service. We need to be able to identify with them to understand their needs better, recognize the risks, and do a good job securing their data and systems.
So many cybersecurity people fail to consider their clients’ specific needs when developing strategies to secure their data and devices. Instead of effective solutions, they create overly complicated security frameworks that leave their clients vulnerable to attack.
Securing data — your client is afraid — soothe them
They might tell clients things like: “To secure your data, you need to do all one hundred items on this checklist.” The client may ask, “I don’t have the resources to do all of that. Tell me the most important things to do.” The cybersecurity staff will likely respond with, “you need to do all one hundred items.”
For most technical people, it’s all or nothing — don’t be this way.
They have difficulty empathizing with a client’s lack of resources, for example, so they can’t come up with simple solutions. As a result, all one hundred items on their framework get done at 5 percent, and nothing is fully completed. This result works to the cybercriminals’ advantage by leaving the client’s system vulnerable to attack.
Damaging Client Relationships
To show you how a lack of empathy can damage your relationship with clients, I want to share a story from my own cybersecurity company’s past.
Once, I sat in on a kickoff call with a new client, my chief operating officer, and one of my technical employees, Doug. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Doug lacked people skills, including empathy.
The client, a new chief information security officer (CISO), wanted us to do a cybersecurity assessment for his company, but he was nervous. He had never done one before and needed to report the results to his CEO. “Please keep me in the loop. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m worried about it,” he told us.
As the project progressed, I was shocked to learn Doug wasn’t keeping the CISO in the loop, which he had specifically requested. He was emailing the CISO weekly with updates per our company’s standard operating procedure, yet this was only a two-week engagement. This client requested to be updated frequently and expressed nervousness about the testing, which should have been a clue to increase communication.
If Doug had been empathetic to the CISO’s anxiety about running a cybersecurity assessment, he might have thought to send updates daily, not weekly. His lack of empathy had the potential to impact the relationship with our client negatively. Fortunately, we caught this after a few days and asked Doug to send daily updates. We explained to him why this was important—that it is our job to provide value, make them secure, and give them a great experience.
The “great experience” part is often the missing piece because it requires people skills. Everyone wants to be understood and appreciated. Clients, too.
Aim to Provide a Great Client Experience
As Doug proved, your technical workers need to have empathy to provide a great client experience. In fact, you should want any employee who interacts with clients to improve their people skills. Clear, effective communication is critical to a successful security outcome and long-lasting relationships with your clients. Remember, a lack of empathy in your technical people directly impacts the service you can provide.
Understanding the clients’ needs
Unempathetic cybersecurity professionals will likely perform subpar work because they don’t fully understand your clients’ needs. Moreover, if you tolerate poor people skills in your technical employees, it’s only a matter of time before they offend, ignore, or drive off a valuable client.
Ask yourself this: if you owned a restaurant, would you hire servers who were rude to your customers? Of course not. Even if the food were top-notch, the overall customer experience would suffer if patrons had to deal with bad service or dirty napkins. Having unempathetic technical people at your cybersecurity company is no different.
Give your tech people — people skills.
In short, to provide a fantastic client experience, you’ll want to train technical employees in people skills. Ensure that your team demonstrates empathy when interacting with clients. Teach them to listen to your clients’ problems and communicate their solutions clearly.
If you train your current employees to practice empathy and screen for people skills in any new hires, you’ll be able to build a team that can skillfully navigate both the technical and social aspects of the cybersecurity business.
For more advice on managing an effective technical team, you can find The Smartest Person in the Room on Amazon.
Image Credit: alex green; pexels; thank you!
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!