“Can’t you just send this in email?”
Sitting in his high street office in Chichester, United Kingdom, Guy Applebee was frustrated. As a partner at Alpha Independent Mortgages, the last thing he wanted to do was troubleshoot IT security software.
The insurance and mortgage advisor was using encrypted emails to share sensitive files, including ID, evidence of income and tax returns. Guy was on a call with the latest client fed up with the solution. “Can’t you just send this in email?”, the client asked. Bringing up the crippling fines for risking customer data wouldn’t convince him − he didn't care. He was only interested in filing his mortgage request on time.
As soon as the support call ended, Guy was dialing his business partner, Graham. It was time to find the right way to share files. Simple enough for clients to use. Secure enough to protect their business.
Customer satisfaction vs. security?
For years, Alpha relied on the post and on rare occasions, email, to share documentation. The post took days to get to the recipient. All the while, news of massive data breaches started making headlines. Mortgage magazines published horror stories about small businesses wrecked by hackers or a misplaced email.
Talking about their daily struggles, Guy says − “If the documentation we handle was stolen, we could be charged with negligence and stopped from trading. We could be required to compensate clients. And we would certainly be fined.”
A fine may not be the end, but research shows that 38% of customers stop doing business with a breached company. This is fatal for a small business. To secure file sharing, Alpha turned to a leading provider of encrypted email. Their clients weren’t IT savvy, but every one of them used email, they reasoned. Adding a small step to the process should be acceptable in exchange for security.
However, to set up encrypted email, a client had to:
- Download an email plugin
- Install it
- Sign up
- Create a “public-private encryption key pair”
- Exchange the public key with Alpha
- Encrypt and decrypt emails piecemeal
“When we were using secure email, about 1 in 2 clients weren’t able to use it effectively.” If clients encountered problems, they turned to Alpha, as the service didn’t provide support for small business accounts.
The business was bleeding time and customer trust. Many clients, frustrated with the system, simply went back to plain email. This opened Alpha to security risks. Support calls were made daily. Security was slowing the company down.
Getting rid of the headache
A chance encounter reversed Alpha’s fortunes. A local businessman recommended a new service called Tresorit as a fix-all for their data management issues. “Our main considerations before switching to Tresorit were: is the system really as secure as it claims to be? And is it user friendly?” – says Guy.
Alpha asked friends in IT security and researched the service. They were convinced that Tresorit met their security needs. Tresorit’s $50,000 hacker challenge provided further reassurance.
To trial the service, they simply dragged a folder onto the Tresorit application. Encrypting the folder’s content on the device, then syncing to the cloud was automatic, and took seconds. Clients received a personalized email invitation and had no problem accessing their sensitive documents.
“Any documents we place into Tresorit appear immediately on the client’s laptop. We could be talking on the phone and look at information together rather than having to do it by post and waiting for 2−3 days.”
Once Alpha was sure of Tresorit’s ease of use and security, they transferred all of their business documents to the system. Previously, Guy and Graham worked on sensitive internal business documents in isolation until they could meet in person. With Tresorit, collaboration improved inside the company as well. After working with a few clients, Alpha was sold.
Less support, happier customers
Guy noticed an immediate, drastic decrease in the number of complaints and frustrated customers after starting the switch. “Very few clients have any difficulty at all with Tresorit. We spend less time giving technical support, while providing more security for our clients.” When issues do crop up, Tresorit’s dedicated support team responds within the day.
Lastly, Guy and Graham realized that usable security can be a selling point to new clients. It may not be top of mind when they walk in the door, but once Alpha raises the issue, they realize the need. “One of the first things we bring up when talking to a new client is Tresorit. They love the idea. It sets us apart from our competitors.”
That promise of security hasn’t failed them. Since switching to Tresorit in 2013, Alpha has had no data breaches or faced any fines.
Who are Alpha Independent Mortgages?
Two insurance and mortgage advisors in rural Chichester, United Kingdom. Clients range from low income newlyweds in their twenties to high net worth elderly widows filing for 2,000,000 GBP mortgages.
Prime target of a breach
handling sensitive data without internal IT resources
Highly regulated industry
fines and revocation of license in case of a breach
Varying IT skills among clients
50% had problems with encrypted email
Security in the way of business
hours spent troubleshooting security for clients
- No breaches, no fines
- Time to do business instead of technical support
- Clients have no problem sharing securely
- Sensitive business documents available anywhere
- Security is a competitive advantage