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How COVID-19 is evolving the data breach communication process

Covid-19 is at the forefront of business minds right now, with many tasking themselves with understanding, reacting to and learning lessons from this ever-changing situation. However, although business survival will be the top priority throughout this pandemic, it’s also essential to have the correct processes in place to effectively respond to a data breach.

With the vast majority of employees now working remotely it has made putting response plans together more challenging and sourcing specialist partners, like Experian, more important. But one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is managing inbound communications from their customers following a notification to them of a data breach.

The ability to respond to customer concerns can be where the impact of a data breach is felt most within organisations. Telling people their data has been compromised could impact a brand’s strength and then this can be further exacerbated when the organisation is unable to effectively respond to concerned or anxious customers calling in.

For instance, in our current environment the ability to provide contact centre experts is challenging both from an existing workforce perspective, seeking to recruit additional resources for short periods and is being further intensified as a result of the challenges of home working. There is no doubt pressure is on to find trained experts that can support these types of events. And when you add in differing language requirements, logistics, equipment and monitoring of call quality you can start to see the challenges this can impose on the organisation to stand up an effective response facility.

In many cases contact centre experts are supporting ‘business as usual’ requirements. So, when a reactive crisis recovery event comes along, how can the extra staff be found, trained and effectively equipped to do it well? This is a challenge everyone faces now and, to a degree, competing on as we weather the current health emergency.

While companies are evolving their recruitment, screening, training and equipment process and protocols, this is a major step change for the industry where quality and quantity of resource is critical.

However, we are seeing new approaches starting to be adopted by many organisations in other areas, which has meant companies are pushing technological solutions to better enable them to meet new and evolving demands.

We are also seeing an increased usage of live chat, where agents can manage multiple customer contacts simultaneously thus reducing the headcount and improving efficiency. Chatbots are also being developed to answer a range of frequent enquiries, while correspondence through email and social media is being stepped up to ensure prompt responses to customer queries is achieved. Online retailers are also developing microsites to reduce pressure on their main sites and introducing dynamic content on sites to reduce the number of people contacting them.

What has also been interesting to see is companies now looking more closely at preparedness plans. It is now better understood that having a communication response strategy in place informs your notification strategy.

You do not want to send out mass notifications if you do not have the resource in place to manage the inbound communications that will undoubtedly follow. This planning allows for an understanding of whether stagger strategies around notifications need to be developed to smooth the inbound response, as well as better understanding the types of communication channel differing customer groups have a preference to use.

We are now seeing many more organisations looking for differing levels of support in the planning phase. This can be from access to basic planning guides and templates right through to consultancy and reserving external resources to ensure customer demand is delivered.

Scenarios, drills and simulations are also part of this planning where companies can test themselves, learn and evolve their response plans to make sure that these types of challenges can be mitigated, and the impact reduced.

Customer-centric focus

Putting the customer front and centre of a plan will ensure you have the right resources and expertise in place so you can respond and notify the individuals affected.

This forward planning will help limit damage to your reputation, but most importantly, your customers. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your customers’ and safeguard them from becoming a potential victim of fraud in the future.

Planning for a data breach in advance is a step every organisation can take and is the right thing to do by the customer. It means you can respond, reassure and recover with confidence.


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Jim Steven

Jim Steven

Head of Crisis & Breach Response

Experian Consumer Services

Member since

27 Jun 2016



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