Retail POS Security And Compliance

It is hugely important for large and small retailers to realize the importance of POS security as well as the overall security of their IT systems.  Customer trust is critical to maintain and once it is lost it can be hard to regain it.  Large retailers like Target that have been hit by hacks and breaches of consumer credit card information lost quite a bit of business due to the breaches.  It was estimated that Target lost almost half of its holiday earnings post-breach back in 2014.  It also agreed to pay a settlement and lost quite a bit of money both investigating and repairing the breach itself.

Can stores prevent these things from happening in the first place?  We polled a few local IT companies, such as AMA Networks of San Diego as well as Centrix and Greenman.  The best thing to do is to understand compliance regulations, but to go beyond that and get bigger, better security in place.

Outsource Your IT

If you’re a smaller company it would behoove you to hire a managed IT company to handle your in-house IT security.  Having a small team do it or doing it yourself is asking for trouble as the need to stay on top of security matters is paramount.  Leave it up to the experts and you’ll sleep much better at night.  It’s more cost effective and it leaves you and your IT team to focus on customer-related matters.  Having happy customers is really the name of the game, and focusing on your business should be paramount in that regard.

Educate Employees

Another thing that is a good idea is to ensure that your employees are savvy to the basics of IT security, such as what to look for in phishing emails as well as how to spot phone scams and other breaches.  Let them know that clicking suspicious links or giving information to unsolicited callers is always a no-no.  These scams are getting more and more sophisticated by the day and even those with experience are prone to falling for some of the more complex phone scams out there.  Even those who know what to look for can fall victim to these extortion techniques.

It’s also important that your employees have a good understanding of cloud security protocols when it comes to storing files on AWS servers for example.

Data Backup And Disaster Prep

Having good IT security is one thing, but what if you do get hacked?  Then having a proper backup and disaster plan in place is key.  If you aren’t backing up your data you are leaving you and your company vulnerable to a lot of trouble.  For example, in terms of ransomware attacks where a computer is held hostage by an encryption key that requires a ransom to break, companies that have adequate backups of their systems can wipe the drives and start anew.

Although it is never recommended that you pay for a ransomware key, sometimes companies don’t have any backups in place and have no choice but to pay or lose the data forever.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction Is The End Goal

All too often companies and processes lose track of the fact that customer satisfaction needs to be the end goal.  Especially in this era of communication and review sites such as Yelp, it’s incredibly important to ensure that your customers have nothing but praise when they are done dealing with you.

Here are some tips from Government Computer News:

Meeting work standards and quotas is not good enough any more. Caring about customers is the key to survival in the marketplace. Caring does not always mean doing everything the customer asks for. Caring means providing the best possible service for the customer at the lowest possible cost. Doing things that are not needed, even though requested by the customer, is not in the best interest of the customer.

The problem most data processing professionals face is that they do not understand the customer’s needs and thus are unable to make significant contributions to customer care.

Managers must look at each job from two perspectives. The first is the customer’s perspective: what he wants and needs. The second perspective is the perspective of the producer of the products that will satisfy the customer’s needs. If these two views are inconsistent, it results in unhappy customers and, in many cases, unhappy technical people.

Let’s look first at my automotive situation and second at data processing. I wanted my automobile fixed, but I also wanted some minor questions answered, and I wanted my car to be clean at the end of the servicing operation.

The mechanic working on my car was allotted three hours and 12 minutes to do eight different tasks. The only thing the mechanic was paid for, evaluated on and instructed to do were those eight tasks within the allotted time. Keeping the car clean and answering my questions were not part of the job and would have made it difficult to meet that time standard.

The mechanic’s perspective of a quality maintenance job was significantly different from mine as a customer. In this case, the technician was probably given a pat on the back for completing the job in three hours and 12 minutes; the dealership lost a customer.

Let’s look at a similar situation in data processing. The customer brings a computer system in for service. It needs some coding changes, and those changes are assigned to a programmer. Eight lines of code need to be changed, and the programmer is given three hours and 12 minutes to do the work.

In this situation, the customer wants a defect-free system after the change, wants his documentation updated and wants the programs ready for the next change. The programmer is told to make the change but is given no guidance on how to test, how extensively to test and whether to update system and programming documentation or end-user documentation.

The programmer completes the changes in three hours and 12 minutes. None of the documentation is updated. He is not sure that the changed system will work in production, but he thinks it will.

Unfortunately, the program abnormally terminates. The programmer is called in to make the correction, and the job is rerun. The customer is charged for all of that work. The customer makes errors in entering data because the documentation is not updated, again increasing the cost of operation.

The next time the program is changed, the new programmer makes an error because the documentation was not updated. The customer again pays. The net result is an unhappy customer, and the technical person may not know why.

In many organizations, quality assurance groups are attempting to close the gap between what the customer wants and what the technician delivers. The approaches being used include:

* More quantitative definitions of the customer’s criteria for evaluating quality.

* Problem-tracking systems. The problems identified by customers are recorded in a system that ensures they will be monitored until corrected to the customer’s satisfaction.

* Use of data processing quality improvement programs. The purpose of these programs is to use the information recorded in the problem-tracking system to identify the more serious problems and then change the processes.

It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that the customer is satisfied. In fulfilling this responsibility, managers must make the technical people aware of their contribution to this customer satisfaction mission. The technical people must also be given the time, tools and training necessary to achieve customer satisfaction.

 

Perry, William E. “Customers, not quotas, must come first.” Government Computer News 20 Nov. 1987: 43+.

Is Your Business Eco Friendly?

Showing that your retail business is eco-friendly is becoming more and more important these days, especially in certain urban centers that have become a bit more green and environmentally aware, such as Portland, and hipster hotspots of most urban areas.  Having a business that promotes eco-friendly methods can be a great boost in getting people through the doors.

Technology can be a huge help in providing the necessary alterations to your store.

There is a great deal of debate about the effects of technological development on the environment. Technology has historically been responsible for a great amount of harm to the planet, but there is also a lot it can do to improve environmental health. Energy grids are using computers to control distribution, improving efficiency and reducing waste. The spread of information via the internet has allowed scientists and inventors to share ideas instantly, leading to the faster development of energy saving technologies. But there are many ways regular people can use technological advancements to lessen their impact on the environment.

  • Home lighting and heating systems can be equipped with sensors that detect when someone is in the room. Lights will turn on and off immediately when someone enters or leaves the room, while heating and air conditioning appliances will wait a short amount of time before responding. This is a convenient way to keep your energy consumption low.  Use sensors for your bathrooms.
  • Most utility and service companies now offer paperless billing systems. This means you will receive bill information via email rather than in the mail, and make payments electronically with automated direct deposits or digital bank transfers. Call your service providers to see if you can switch to this option.  Offer to allow your customers to receive their receipt by email rather than on paper.
  • Almost all media products are now available in non physical formats. Music can be downloaded as mp3 files or streamed, most television programs and movie content providers offer paid streaming services, and books are available on several different digital reading devices. Switching entirely to digital media consumption saves huge amounts of paper and plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
  • A simple internet search yields easy to use instructions on how to build homemade solar and geothermal energy systems. Some amateur engineering or mechanical experience helps, but it is not as difficult as it sounds. As an added bonus, most local energy companies will actually pay you for putting any unused energy back into the power grid.  Can you think of ways to add solar or geothermal energy to your business?
  • Ensure your computers in the office are running at peak performance by tuning them up from time to time.  There are software programs out there that can be run to ensure that there are no rogue software programs on your PC.  I recommend Spyhunter as well as RegCure pro – read about them here.

There are lots of websites that give easy to use instructions for average people to practice more environmentally friendly energy practices. As people improve these methods on their own, they can share their innovations via blogs and forums with others.