CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, announced the findings from its 2019 CGS Customer Service Security and Compliance Survey. The results showed that despite demands for faster, more personalized interactions, consumers have strong opinions when it comes to their security and privacy rights. With reports from the latest Edelman Trust Barometer showing that only 49 percent of the U.S. general population trusts businesses (down from 52 percent in 2017), companies must work to strike a balance between providing a tailored customer experience and respecting their customers’ data preferences.
CGS surveyed more than 500 U.S. consumers to assess their preferences and concerns around customer service interactions. The survey looked at what types of information individuals are willing to share, how they are willing to share (e.g., through a human agent, social media, chatbot) and any apprehensions they have with sharing their personal data. Key findings from the survey include:
Automated Technology Still Lacks Consumer Trust
Despite the rapid adoption of mobile and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, almost 60 percent of respondents still believe that phone interactions are the most secure customer service channel. In fact, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said they don’t trust automated technology with personal data including birthdates, account numbers and social security numbers. As more businesses adopt automated and AI-driven service solutions, they must be transparent about how customer data will be stored and managed to encourage consumer confidence in next-gen technology.
"Companies must focus on the customer journey and not just on the newest technology," said John Samuel, EVP, CGS. "AI can be beneficial to a business, including customer service, but it shouldn’t be relied upon as a standalone solution; rather it should be assessed as a tool to complement customer support representatives. With low unemployment, companies will need to be more creative with their resources and implement technology that can help automate processes that aid their staff, who in turn can focus on the business’s highest priorities – its customers."
Past Experiences with Data Exposures Leave Consumers Feeling Vulnerable
Data breaches have become commonplace for many consumers: 63 percent of respondents reported receiving an alert that their personal data had potentially been exposed or breached. Such experiences are affecting future interactions. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they are unlikely to return to a company that has exposed their personal information. With data exposures and breaches happening more frequently, companies must have a plan in place as to how they will notify customers if an incident occurs. Being completely prepared for data vulnerabilities may be impossible, but offering remediations and additional protections in the future could help rebuild consumer trust.
"With talks of U.S. privacy legislation on the horizon, the time is now for businesses to adopt the technology and process that will address consumers’ security concerns," said Michael D. Mills, SVP, Global BPO Solutions, Contact Center division, CGS. "In customer support services, we all need to be more cognizant of consumers’ privacy and the local compliance requirements, making it the forefront of the business. With ever-changing technology and consumer expectations, all industries need to ensure they are prepared for the regulatory needs of today and the future."
Consumers Consent to Providing Information – If They Trust the Brand
Although consumers are looking for personalized interactions, they are wary of sharing their information with companies. When asked if they would give a company the authority to store their information for future interactions, only three percent of respondents said they would always give consent. More than half of the respondents (56 percent) would give consent if they trusted the brand, but 41 percent would never allow their information to be stored, citing security concerns.
Additionally, consumers are uncertain about how their data is currently being managed by companies. Only 15 percent of respondents felt that they have a clear understanding of what information is being stored from their interactions with companies. While personalized customer service interactions are essential to success, organizations must demonstrate respect for their customers’ data privacy preferences. This means being transparent with customers about how their data will be used and protected.
For over 30 years, CGS has enabled global enterprises, regional companies and government agencies to drive breakthrough performance through business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients' complex, multi-dimensional needs and support clients' most fundamental business activities. Headquartered in New York City, CGS employs more than 7,500 professionals across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2019
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