Customer experience and attention to security are vital to a company’s success, but companies that don’t properly plan risk alienating customers and exposing their company to a potential breach.

To find success, organizations must approach both processes holistically. It starts with the senior leadership team and makes its way through every level of the organization.

Small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) face constant security challenges, and maintaining vigilance is more important than ever. These threats are growing in size, scope and sophistication, and companies cannot stand idle.

While security protocols must permeate every aspect of the business, companies cannot let their security approach stymie their teams’ ability to conduct business. Instead, they must strike a balance in conducting business.

As they consider their approach, here are a few thoughts to ponder.

Ask your customers what they think.

Before implementing a customer experience plan, SMBs must know what their customers think and how they perceive the company and its offerings. We can’t be sure an approach works if we don’t take the first step to listen.

Too often, despite our hyperconnectivity, misunderstandings happen because we don’t take the time to engage with and listen to one another — that’s true both internally and externally. It’s the only way to understand the landscape, including the positive and the negatives.

While no one enjoys hearing negative feedback, it gives us the insights needed to tailor and elevate offerings.

When leaders set the tone and lay the foundation for an open and honest exchange of ideas and feedback, their teams will follow. When everyone within the organization is aligned and communicates openly, they spend less time troubleshooting and more time delivering the quality experience customers want.

Recognize that customer security and success are linked.

Delivering a great customer experience doesn’t require a new department and team of agents dedicated to delivering on the experience. It’s about defining a vision and putting in place a culture of service.

More than anything, a company’s leadership must seize the opportunity to lead by example. Changing an organization’s thinking to view cybersecurity as an opportunity to advance the customer experience requires buy-in at every level.

While most employees recognize that keeping customers’ data safe is the foundation for business relationships, too many team members don’t want to highlight those efforts. However, it is an opening to connect with customers and share the security story.

Senior leaders must empower their employees to relay the “why cybersecurity” story to customers. Doing so aligns everyone internally and externally.

Security and the experience require organizational change.

Whether it’s creating a positive experience or a culture of security, change begins with a company’s upper management. Ultimately, senior leaders must empower their teams and motivate them to serve customers and deliver against the value proposition they promise.

They must “walk the walk” — not just “talk the talk” — before they can expect to see widespread adoption within their organizations; only then will it filter through team members in every department at every level.

But change also requires empowering teams to do right. When done correctly, there is no limit to their success.

Organizations’ needs are constantly changing — and faster than ever. While the pandemic has changed demands, what has remained constant is the mandate for solutions that solve problems.

No one needs to choose whether to focus on security or service. Instead, they can focus on the two equally. After all, both are equally crucial to success in the modern business world.