British business not to be trusted with our data, say consumers

British business not to be trusted with our data, say consumers

Most consumers acknowledge that data breaches are now ‘a part of life’, but they are also warning UK organisations that they will shop elsewhere if cyber security is not part of the customer service promise.

According to research of 1,000 consumers, UK organisations have a hard task persuading customers to trust them in the wake of recent hacks.  More than three-quarters now believe organisations will never truly be able to protect their data.  Worryingly for UK plc, almost 1 in 4 also suggest that ‘nothing could restore my trust’ after a data breach.

The data reveals that customer confidence has been hit by a constant stream of cyber-attacks.  As a result the public is putting pressure on business and Government to outline, and increase, security levels.  83 percent argue that organisations should highlight what they are doing to protect customer data and 81 percent want to see Government take action by reviewing data protection legislation.  More also want to see Government imposing fines if sufficient safeguards are not implemented.

Dealing with a crisis

Taking action also goes beyond prevention, with respondents indicating that how businesses react to a data breach could determine loyalty and recommendations which in turn impact revenue generation over the long-term.  30 percent, for example, admit they will change suppliers if the company they are using becomes a victim of cyber attack.  28 percent would also never consider using an organisation if it had been previously been reported as a victim.

“Acceptance of the inevitability of cyber attacks may be a reality, but British consumers have become increasingly concerned about the way organisations use customer data and protect it, once a breach has happened,” says Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service.

“They want to know what plans are in place to secure personal data, before sharing it.  They rightly demand reassurance that organisations will be transparent in the event of a breach and they are also seeking clarity about how brands will respond if cyber defences are broken.  The fact is that a customer’s experience is determined not just by performance when things go well, but the promise of performance when things go wrong.  That’s why the organisations best able to deliver a strong, reassuring and detailed outline of their cyber strategy and demonstrate its execution will set themselves apart from their competitors and go a long way to securing the loyalty of customers in the long-term.”

The overwhelming feeling is that organisations should take several clear steps to maintain trust and ensure the customer experience is not shaken by a breach.  The top demand is for clarification that a new security programme has been installed, whilst 9 percent want notification of an updated security policy and 6 percent want personal phone calls updating them about the situation.

Whose responsibility is it?

Consumers are keen to deliver the message that security and customer service go hand in hand, with 81 percent of respondents believing that any employee in an organisation should be able to inform them about data security policy.  However, 76 percent admit they should, personally, be better informed about how to protect their personal information.

“It’s too easy to suggest that cyber security and knowledge of how an organisation protects its customers’ data is the domain of the IT team.  Good customer service means that any employee should be able to answer any query because, in today’s relationship economy, a consumer can come into contact with many different members of staff and they all need to be fully prepared.

“Of course, security cannot be wholly delegated by the consumer but any failure to prepare post-breach policies will have a significant impact on the bottom line of UK plc. We have already seen how a company’s share price can be affected by an attack, but the way it is handled from a customer service perspective is what will have the biggest impact on the long-term financial health of a business. Transparency, speed of notification and consistent communication will be crucial if businesses are to regain the trust that will be lost from having customer data compromised. A failure to do so will be disastrous for the business.”