Let’s get real… it’s hard enough to manage and remember all of your personal passwords, let alone manage the passwords that your clients entrust you with. And don’t even get me started with creating secure passwords; it’s simply insanity!
So how are you expected to keep all of this straight, organized, and secure? With the help of a password manager.
What is a password manager?
A password manager is a cloud-based system that will generate, store, and retrieve all of your passwords in one place. There are multiple top-rated password managers out there, but most of them have the same basic elements.
They create super long, complicated passwords out of a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. This ensures your passwords are unique across every platform and are secure enough not to be able to hack into.
They organize your passwords in folders based on your criteria.
They allow for easy copy/paste retrieval of said complicated passwords by access of fingerprint and/or your master password.
How can a password manager help me manage my clients?
For the purposes of this article we will be using the service, LastPass which is a very easy to use, free (with premium versions starting at $3/month) platform.
LastPass allows you to create folders, and subfolders, and subfolders within those. The paid versions also allow you to create shared folders for the clients who want to have control of their passwords in one place.
When managing your clients’ passwords, each client should have their own folder. This will allow you to keep all of their accounts separate from each other. When a client gives you a password, it should be added directly into their folder and then any email/written documentation of the password should be destroyed.
TIP: LastPass also allows you to save credit card information. This can be very helpful for a client who needs to give you access to make purchases on their behalf.
How to gain your clients’ trust with their passwords?
Despite having a password manager, you can always run the risk of having security issues. This can be as minor as a small email hack or as large as a website breach and data infection. This is why having a password management system is the first step in earning your clients’ trust with their private information.
When I onboard a new client, I always ask them how they like to handle their accounts and what passwords they are comfortable turning over to me right away. Some clients will be more hesitant while others will quickly hand over everything to you. Regardless of their personal comfort level, I always reassure them that I use a secure password management system that will keep their information secure at all times.
What to do if something goes wrong?
No matter how careful you are, chances are, if you are in this business for a long time, you will have a security breach of some sort at some time. The number one thing to do is, to be honest. Yes, you can try to troubleshoot the issue yourself, but sometimes troubleshooting can lead to bigger and worst issues than just owning up to the mistake in the first place.
Explain what happened to your client. Don’t make excuses for it, but explain what was done to prevent it from happening, how it needs to be fixed, and how you will prevent it from happening again in the future. This will show professionalism on your part and your client will see you remain calm and collected in crisis mode. And as always, apologize for what happened.
Now, sometimes these mistakes can cost money and time. There is no one answer for what to offer your client. I would absolutely, never tell you to offer to cover the cost of the mistake if it is a few thousand dollars or more. But if it is a small cost, I would offer to cover the cost (or even just 50%). Alternatively, if the mistake took a lot of your time, I would offer to not charge for the time it took to fix the problem.
Small offers like this can show your clients you are committed to making the problem right. 9 times out of 10, your client will probably turn down your offer or counter with something that is fair for both of you.
No matter how many clients you have right now or how many passwords you need to organize, having a password manager should be a non-negotiable when it comes to your client management procedures. It offers your clients peace of mind and will save you time from having to search through hundreds of emails looking for specific passwords.
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