What Bank Contact Centers Can Learn from the Target Data Breach

9 December, 2014 (11:40) | Blog | By: admin

Author: Kirsten Jepson, Global Marketing Director, Financial Services

Although the Target breach happened more than eight months ago, the retailer is still working to overcome breaking trust with its customers. Costs from the breach have risen to $148 million and earnings for shareholders have fallen. As Target is discovering, customer confidence and loyalty is hard to earn back, once lost.

In an effort to help financial services institutions prepare for and improve the way their customer service teams deal with concerned and upset consumers during an incident, we took a look at how sentiment trended for banks and fraud during the time period when the Target breach took place.

First, let’s take a look at an analysis of the social conversation around the Target breach conducted by Crimson Hexagon for the time period of December 18, 2013 through January 21, 2014. Eighty-six thousand Tweets were analyzed with 55% of them neutral. At the beginning of the time period, 19% of the total social conversation was critical of Target. By the end of the month criticism had risen to 34%. Two percent have stated they no longer trust Target and will not shop there again.

But most important is that consumer opinion of Target has shifted 180 degrees from 95% positive to 95% negative. According to Crimson Hexagon, this is one of the largest shifts in consumer opinion about a retailer to date.

This dramatic shift in opinion may be related to the number of breaches and the fact that 13.1 million people experienced a fraud incident in 2013, an increase of 500,000 over 2012. But it’s also related to the lack of responsibility consumers believe they should carry in relation to fraud. In fact, the 2014 Consumer Reaction to Financial Data Breaches Study finds that 60% of consumers believe merchants should take responsibility for preventing fraud, while 13% believe banks should carry the burden. Only 5% think it is the consumer’s responsibility. Given this mindset, customer service agents must take care to demonstrate empathy. This is especially true if dealing with the 43% of consumers who think nothing is more aggravating than having credit or debit card data stolen.

Steps Bank Customer Service Teams Can Take to Prepare for the Next Time

Fraud incidents are increasing. Since 2005, more than 300 data breaches in which 100,000 or more records were compromised have been disclosed. Taking steps for continuous improvement in the ways your customer service agents respond across phone, email, chat and social media during and after a fraud event is an imperative to ensure that the disruption to customer trust is minimized and that sentiment returns to normal as quickly as possible.

•Add capacity fast. One of the biggest frustrations for Target customers is that the retailer was unable to respond quickly to their inquiries. From stalled websites to phone lines unanswered to emails not returned, the lack of capacity has cost Target dearly. Make sure you work with your contact center vendor to ensure that adding agents in the case of an event is scalable. Consider work @home agents and additional sites with similarly skilled agents that may be used over the short term.

•Demonstrate empathy. This is the time when having a human conversation that isn’t stifled by strict policies that make agents come across as uncaring and stiff is needed most. Talk to your vendor about coaching, role playing and training for improving agent soft skills. This training will pay off in both good times and bad. Additionally, working to ensure that your offshore agents understand the culture of the customer will aid in their efforts to calm concerned customers and keep the queue flowing.

•Communicate the Plan. During a potential fraud event is no time for an agent to be uninformed about the actions the bank or credit union is taking in response to the breach. Customers can be fairly forgiving if they know their bank is taking action and what that means. Make sure that the information is made available in all channels and, especially in social media, monitor for posting the same responses repeatedly. Your customers know if the bank is being authentic and transparent in their concern for them or more concerned with touting the company line.

Our own analysis of social media mentions of banks as related to fraud, found that volume of mentions around all fraud topics has increased since the Target breach announcement on December 19, 2013. When we cross-tabulated mentions of the Target breach with banks, we found that 61% of the mentions were neutral, 21% were positive, and 18% were negative.Positive posts were due to the bank’s proactive notification alerts about possible fraud accounts, assurance of no occurrence of fraud, and related to users’ awareness of actions the banks have taken in response to the issue. Negative sentiments included cards not working, emptied accounts and negative experiences for consumers trying to recover from the breach’s effects on their accounts along with complaints about inconvenience.

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