Banks top the list of organisations people trust least with their personal data, according to a survey of 2,000 UK consumers.
According to the report by research consultancy Davies Hickman Partners, six million consumers have stopped doing business with an organisation because of concerns about security.
The report suggests this could be redressed by improving the convenience and quality of the customer service experience in contact centres and using technology to reduce the potential for fraud.
The survey shows 46% of consumers suspect high-level security breaches at financial institutions. This figure is 40% for mobile phone companies and 37% for retailers.
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The biggest security risk is seen to come from the contact centre, with 45% of respondents citing this as the starting point for fraud.
While consumers place the blame squarely at the door of UK business in general – and the contact centre in particular – they also show a high level of willingness to embrace new technology to tackle the problem.
They are reassured by the automation and anonymity provided by technology and regard humans as the weak security link.
Only 5% think that sharing card details with a human agent is secure. In contrast 81% would feel more comfortable entering a password on a keypad to confirm their identity when calling a contact centre and 51% said they would be happy to use voice biometrics for banking.
Despite recognising the need for security, currently consumers regard many checks as cumbersome and outdated and are frustrated by both the speed and quality of the customer service experience.
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Some 55% expressed irritation with companies that do not have a fully integrated contact centre forcing them to repeat security information on a call.
According to the research report, fear of call centre fraud has stopped 18 million consumers from making purchases over the phone when interacting with a callcentre. Yet 51% say they are put off using a provider if there are too many passwords and security details needed.
“Consumers’ contradictory attitudes leave businesses stuck between a rock and a hard place. By focusing on the three ‘S’s – service, speed and security – brands can improve customer lifetime value, strengthen security and increase brand loyalty,” said Simon Culmer, managing director, UK, Avaya
He said consumer trust in technology is key, and should be used to reassure customers that their security concerns are being addressed while improving customer experience.
The research suggests that consumers are becoming increasingly security savvy, said Kenneth Hitchen, founding director of Sabio.
“Businesses need to build back confidence in traditional transactions methods, and 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,” he said.