Retailers: Playing a high-risk game with customer trust?


2 May 2017

How would you feel if a trusted friend looked after your house for the weekend, only to leave the key under the doormat — and a passing thief ransacked your home? Unfortunately, there's a scenario playing out in the retail world that isn't so different.

Retailers want to be your friend. Their catalog, websites, apps and agents call you by your first name. They remember your preferences, make suggestions, carry your shopping basket and give you a nudge when interesting offers come along.

Like a super-accommodating best buddy, they'll be there for you, 24/7, wherever you want them to be - laptop, mobile, tablet, telephone ... every channel, at any moment.

As with other relationships, it's about building trust: If a product isn't in stock, they say so; it'll be delivered when they promise; returns are handled professionally and SMS messages keep you updated. And you trust them because they always tell the truth.

Customer engagement has come a very long way. But it can turn sour in seconds

Many human friendships can mask deep flaws that suddenly reveal themselves at unpleasant moments - and all the camaraderie crumbles. When a friend blurts out your personal secrets at a crowded party, trust evaporates.

The same can happen with retail relationships. While today's consumers are aware of security risks, 70% believe the responsibility for protecting and securing their data rests with companies*. Trust levels are sky high, thanks in no small part to the efforts of brands themselves.

The more trust, the more outrage
When sensitive details, such as people's credit card numbers, are stolen and shared with criminals, there can be an massive backlash. All those years of dedication, cultivating trust and loyalty will count for nothing. That special relationship is over.

The stats bear this out. The majority of consumers say they would stop using a retailer (60%) if it suffered a breach - even surpassing the figure for banks (58%)*. And if a breach meant their own sensitive information was stolen, two thirds said they'd be unlikely to use that company again.

But not everyone leaves it there. Almost half of consumers (48%) have a mind to take legal action against fraudsters or organizations involved.

Security must keep pace with trust
The way forward isn't for retailers to promise less on security - or to put more onus on consumers safeguarding themselves. It's sensible to make sure security keeps pace with soaring trust levels. If consumers allow you further into their lives, then your security must extend too, across every channel.

A good practical example would be Hillarys, the leading window dressing retailer. When customers make card payments over the phone, Hillarys takes no chances. Its contact center agents cannot see or hear the card details being entered by the caller. The data cannot be hacked from IT systems or deciphered from keytones or call recordings.

In fact, all the sensitive customer payment data is kept totally outside of Hillarys' infrastructure, removing its desktops, systems, agents and call recordings from the PCI DSS compliance scope. It's the ultimate way to protect customer information - and to justify their trust. Developed with Eckoh, the solution was named Security/Anti-fraud Initiative of the Year in the Retail Systems Awards 2016.

Find out more about protecting your customers' trust by safeguarding their data and your business

Watch our video to find out how to avoid card data fraud

If you'd like to know more about our secure payment solutions then give us a call on 866 258 9297 or drop us an email at


*2016 Data Breaches and Consumer Loyalty report, Gemalto
**UK Contact Centres: 2017-2021, ContactBabel, December 2016