Business urged to review security policies after survey reveals gaps in bank privacy procedures

Banks and other major service providers are being warned to up the ante on their security procedures after new research shows contact centre operators are unaware of their own company policies.

The survey, conducted by Global Reviews, compiles results of 160 callers to eight major banks in the first three weeks of November, and found that in 50% of cases, contact centre operators advised callers to breach their own privacy policies.

In one particular example, callers attempted to seek access to a boyfriend or girlfriend’s account. The survey found that while none of these callers were successful, many operators said that if the caller had some of their details, they could transfer money through phone or internet bank services – which Global Reviews claims is against the banks’ policies.

“The main message here is that to avoid potential conflict with customers, you need to make sure that you are aware of maintaining a good, high level of customer service. I don’t want to single out the banks here, because I would suggest that insurance companies and service providers would be no better,” managing partner Peter Grist says.

ANZ was claimed to be the most likely to discourage callers to revert to phone or internet banking in 80% of cases, while other banks told over 66% of bankers to use those services.

The survey found that only 25% of callers were told that being added as a joint account holder was the best way to gain access to an account.

ANZ came in with a benchmark score of 53%, ahead of Westpac and ING Direct with 51%. The survey also lists NAB as a particularly strong operator, with many of its operators apparently “unfazed” by questions relating to privacy.

Grist says this is the most important factor contained in the report – that employees remain in control and confident when questioned over company security and privacy policies.

“It’s important to note there was no actual fraudulent behaviour. It’s just that many of these workers recommended points of action that would go against their company principles.”

“What often happened was when people were questioned over privacy, such as, ‘How do you guarantee my privacy?’ and ‘What information do you track?’, the whole customer experience started to fall down. We were put on hold for longer, and so on.”

Grist says the survey is not meant to target the banks specifically, but is meant to show that operators in a variety of industry need sufficient training. He says the pilot program will come ahead of a larger program that will focus on other industries.

“What I think this is saying is that the benchmark has been set in terms of the industry needing to train and develop their people in terms of aligning them with privacy policies.”

The survey also found that Suncorp was the only bank to provide a name and phone number for making a complaint, and that St George was the only bank to explain the complaints process. The average relating to giving contact names and other details was under 3%.

Under 10% of calls were “satisfactorily resolved”, and that in nearly 33% of cases jargon was used without being explained.

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