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Consumer loyalty is tested by cyber threats

Most consumers acknowledge that data breaches are now "a part of life", but shoppers are warning UK businesses that they will go elsewhere if cyber security is not part of the customer service promise.

This is the conclusion of a new report by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS). Its poll of 1,000 consumers has found that 76% of UK shoppers believe that organisations will never truly be able to protect their data. Almost one in four say that nothing could restore their trust after a data breach.

With a constant stream of cyber-attacks hitting the headlines, consumers want businesses and Government to do more. The ICS poll found that 83% of consumers want organisations to highlight what they are doing to protect customer data; 81% want to see Government review data protection legislation; and 83% want to see the Government imposing fines on businesses if sufficient safeguards are not implemented.

How businesses react to a data breach could determine loyalty, the findings show. But for some consumers, it's a case of once bitten twice shy; 30% said they would change suppliers if the company they are using becomes a victim of a cyber attack; and 28% would avoid any company that had previously been attacked by cyber criminals.

"The fact is that a customer's experience is determined not just by performance when things go well, but the promise of performance when things go wrong," said Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service. 
"Transparency, speed of notification and consistent communication will be crucial if businesses are to regain the trust that will be lost from having customer data compromised."

The research also shows that, in the consumer's eye, cyber security is a key part of any company's overall customer service strategy and not just the responsibility of the IT department. The poll found that 81% of respondents believe that any employee in an organisation should be able to inform them about data security policy.

"It's too easy to suggest that cyber security and knowledge of how an organisation protects its customers' data is the domain of the IT team," said Causon. 
"Good customer service means that any employee should be able to answer any query."

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