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Survey: consumers distrust call centre security

By Retail Technology | Monday March 11 2013

Banks, retailers and mobile operators fare poorly in consumer perception stakes, as six million end relationship with organisations each year due to call centre security concerns

Banks top the list of organisations consumers trust least with their personal data, according to a survey of 2,000 UK consumers published today.

Mobile phone operators and retailers also fare badly in the eyes of the consumer in a report from business collaboration and communications services provider Avaya and contact centre technology company Sabio.

Contact centres are identified as a particular source of weakness, with six million consumers – or 10% of the UK population – having ended their relationship with an organisation because of concerns about security in them.

Negative retail perceptions

Retailers came out in third behind financial institutions, where nearly half (46%) of consumers suspect high-level breaches of security. The figure was 40% for mobile phone companies and 37% for retailers. The biggest security risk was seen to come from the contact centre with nearly half (45%) the population citing this as the starting point for fraud.

However, the research also found demand for new technology to tackle the problem. They were reassured by the automation and anonymity provided by technology and regard human nature as the weakest security link. Only 5% thought that sharing card details with a human agent was 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 (51%) were happy to use the relatively uncommon technology of voice biometrics for banking.

Familiar complaints about call centres still emerged, where 55% were irritated by companies that did not have a fully integrated contact centre, forcing them to repeat security information on a call. And the research calculated that fear of call centre fraud has stopped 18 million consumers from making purchases over the phone when interacting with a call centre. Yet 51% were put off using a provider if too many passwords and security details are needed.

Building customer trust in technology

Simon Culmer, Avaya UK managing director, said contradictory consumer attitudes leave businesses stuck between a rock and a hard place. “By focusing 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,” he stated. “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 of Sabio, added that he 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.”

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