Banks top the list of organisations consumers trust least with their personal data, according to a survey of 2,000 UK consumers. Mobile phone operators and retailers also fare badly in the eyes of the consumer in a report from Avaya, the global provider of business collaboration and communications services, and Sabio, the contact centre technology specialist.
Contact centres are identified as a particular source of weakness, with 6 million consumers – or 10% of the UK population – having ended their relationship with an organisation because of concerns about security in them. The report suggests this could easily be redressed by improving the convenience and quality of the customer service experience in contact centres and using technology to reduce the potential for fraud.
46% of consumers suspect high-level breaches of security at financial institutions. This figure is 40% for mobile phone companies and 37% for retailers. The biggest security risk is seen to come from the contact centre with nearly half (45%) the population citing this as the starting point for fraud.
While consumers place the blame squarely at the door of UK business, and the contact centre in particular, they also show a high level of willingness to embrace new technology to tackle the problem. They are reassured by the automation and anonymity provided by technology and regard human nature as the weakest security link. Only 5% think that sharing card details with a human agent is secure. In contrast 81% would feel more comfortable entering a password on a keypad to confirm their identity when calling a contact centre and over half the population (51%) is happy to use the relatively uncommon technology of voice biometrics for banking.
Despite recognising the need for security, currently consumers regard many checks as cumbersome and outdated and are frustrated by both the speed and quality of the customer service experience. 55% are irritated by companies that do not have a fully integrated contact centre forcing them to repeat security information on a call, and fear of call centre fraud has stopped 18 million consumers from making purchases over the phone when interacting with a call centre. Yet 51% say they are put off using a provider if there are too many passwords and security details needed.
The findings present a particular opportunity for UK businesses to strengthen relationships with consumers and build customer lifetime value. By improving the quality and convenience of the customer experience and security measures they can simultaneously improve brand experience, sales and loyalty.
Simon Culmer, Managing Director, UK, Avaya, commented, “Consumers’ contradictory attitudes leave businesses stuck between a rock and a hard place. By focussing on the three ‘S’ – service, speed and security – brands can improve customer lifetime value, strengthen security and increase brand loyalty. Consumer trust in technology is key. It should be used to reassure customers that their security concerns are being addressed while simultaneously improving the customer experience, speeding up the time and driving down the cost of each and every customer service interaction.”
Kenneth Hitchen, Founding Director, Sabio, added, “The research suggests that consumers are becoming increasingly security savvy. Businesses need to build back confidence in traditional transactions methods. Customer service technology can help them achieve this, whether creating confidence in the secure nature of their own contact centre organisations or encouraging the merchants that depend on their transaction services to do the same.”