• September 1, 2005
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Online Banking: Consumer Trust Versus Loyalty

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As a victim of identity theft, the recent spate of security threats, violations, and miscues struck a nerve in me. Companies like CitiFinancial (a division of CitiGroup), CVS, and MasterCard International are undoubtedly still feeling the pains of recent security breaches, covered on www.destinationCRM.com. In one example, MasterCard's breach exposed more than 40 million payment cards to fraud. Clearly, preventive security measures are the best way to minimize vulnerabilities, but what happens when hackers succeed and customers are victimized? What are companies doing in their call centers to assuage consumers' concerns about their identity, assets, and credit? My one bout with identity theft started when I noticed a large discrepancy in my online checking account statement. Mildly alarmed, I grabbed my checkbook and repeatedly crunched the numbers, adding up all my transactions over the previous five months. The numbers would not add up. So I called my bank's customer service number to alert an agent. However, instead of helping me determine the cause, the agent condescendingly insisted my math was wrong and that I should check it again. He then rushed me off the phone. Furious, I carefully combed through my online statement and found the cause of the discrepancy--an unauthorized withdrawal of $600 from an ATM machine I had never used. I stormed off to the closest branch office of my bank and politely insisted that I speak with a manager. To the bank's credit the manager was very pleasant, understanding, and extremely helpful. But his good management was overshadowed by that call center agent's abrupt, insensitive tone. This leads me to ask the following: Was this agent's abrupt tone his fault, or was it the company's incentive plan that encouraged him to drive me off the phone? "Most call centers are operating on functional measures and not emotional measures," says CRM magazine columnist Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group. By functional measures he's referring to measuring such metrics as the amount of calls an agent can answer in a day, rather than measuring customer satisfaction. Many financial institutions, I suspect, are likely more concerned about luring newcomers into online banking and less concerned about their customers who have been victimized by identity theft. Interestingly, an FTC report on identity theft reveals that 55 percent of customers are "not very" or "not at all" concerned about identity theft once victimized. This is probably because consumers who have been victimized received their money back, as it was often FDIC insured. But their assurance only addresses their comfort levels with online banking, not their loyalty toward a particular bank. I was fully remunerated after the incident, and my comfort level with online banking has only grown stronger. My attitude toward my bank, however, has been negatively altered. I didn't leave my bank because of the sheer inconvenience of doing so, but if presented with an alternative, I'd be more likely to listen. How does your company handle victims of identity theft? Feel free to email me your response at dmyron@destinationCRM.com.
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