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Retailers: Playing a high-risk game with customer trust?
Tuesday, 02 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.

Retailer high risk game 900

Retailers want to be your friend.

Their catalogues, 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 mate, 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 almighty 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 organisations 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 UK’s leading window dressing retailer.

When customers make card payments over the phone, Hillarys takes no chances. Its contact centre 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 scope of PCI DSS compliance. 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.

Similar solutions are available for online transactions, mobile payments and Apple Pay purchases. There's a solution for live chat payments too, which is perfect timing as 25% of contact centres intend to implement live chat in the next 12 months.**

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 breaches. Read Hillarys’ case study

If you'd like to know more about secure payment and customer engagement then get in touch.

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

About the Author

Claire Lynam

Claire Lynam

Marketing Manager

Claire is a professional marketer with 30 years experience in marketing, communications and PR, creating content and collateral that resonates with an organisation's audience. Having worked in multi-national companies and SMEs, Claire has expertise in creating messaging that works for both B2C and B2B markets. 

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