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International data breach readiness: the importance of an effective plan

Delivering an excellent customer experience is what sets businesses apart from their competitors and is an essential service for every business.  Thinking further afield, it is also important for global organisations to provide a service that meets the needs of a broader diverse customer base. 

When it comes to notifying these customers of an international data breach, businesses have the challenge to ensure every individual, across multiple countries, is not only notified, but also fully understands the detail of the incident.  Setting up a post-breach notification phone line is a sensible first step, but for this to be successful, sourcing the right resources and experts and preparing them in advance can put organisations in a stronger position to manage the situation.

The impact of not having native speaking experts

UK companies who have international customers, need to think about who makes up their customer base, which might mean not all will speak English.  If such an organisation did suffer a data breach, and the effects of the incident ran throughout its international supply chain, could it have potential to compromise personally identifiable information of customers across the globe?

If so, organisations will want to notify all individuals affected and outline the potential risk of them becoming a victim of fraud.  Notifying means individuals may need to call in for more information and have a multitude of questions, for example:

  • What personal information has been compromised?
  • Will I lose money?
  • Can someone steal my personal identity?
  • What do I need to do next?
  • How did it happen?
  • What action are you taking to resolve this issue for me?

The addition of a language barrier will make for a demanding conversation on the phones, so ensuring those answering enquiries can confidentially speak in the native tongue is essential.  Creating the right customer experience means you can reassure with confidence and most importantly ensure individuals have the relevant information they need to take the next step.

Setting up a phone line to handle incoming enquiries

Another area that needs consideration is the set-up of the telephone phone lines for handling enquiries.  If you add multiple languages into the mix it can create a more challenging scenario for businesses to handle.  This is one area where a business can take a proactive approach and plan in readiness for a data breach.

The complexity resides in providing a local telephone and, preferably, a Freefone number in the local country where those affected are residing.  The challenge organisations face is you need to register your business, in advance to be able to use an international number in that country. And, if you have not managed to secure a Freefone number then you need to think about whether it is appropriate to ask your customers to be burdened with the cost of the call.  Would you really want your customers to pick up this cost when they were not ultimately responsible for the incident?

Don’t forget about time zones

When dealing with data breaches outside the UK it is also important to consider time zones. Finding native speaking experts is one challenge, the other is ensuring you can provide a call centre which is open at the right time for each country in which your customers reside. Having the capability to provide a call centre service that considers a potential time zone difference of 8-12 hours really demonstrates how seriously the organisation has put each individual need at the heart of the response.

Assessing and preparing in advance

In conclusion, if businesses do not handle the data breach response correctly it may lead to a detrimental view of the organisation – having the potential to decrease customer experience and impact revenue streams in the future. However, if this crisis is treated in a thorough, thought-out way, organisations may be better placed to avoid reputational damage and retain their customers. By ironing out all these logistics requirements, in advance of a data breach, businesses can put the customer front and centre of the response and help to protect them now and in the future.

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