Customer Service in the Time of a Data Breach

bigstock-Credit-card-864490We all heard the story of the data breach at Target Stores during the holiday shopping season. I’m sure many of you, like me, used a credit or debit card at Target during that time. So simply stated, people with unclear intentions now have our name, credit card number, security code, email address, and phone number! Great, now what?

Since this is a relatively new crime there aren’t a lot of procedure manuals to turn to to determine what to do for customers. What did Target do? Announced what they found within days; it was the right thing to do. What did the credit card companies or banks do? Here is what they did for me:

I have a credit card with a Mission Federal Credit Union.  They sent me a letter very shortly after the Target announcement of the data breach that stated, “We have reviewed our records and found that you used your credit card at Target during the time frame the breach happened. We have closed that account and reissued you a new card. It will arrive in the mail within 2 days. We have no evidence that your data was accessed but we felt this precautionary step was necessary for your protection and financial security.

Impressive – such a proactive step. I immediately felt my initial concern fade away, and I felt cared about and valued as a customer. I began to realize that Target and Mission Federal Credit Union not only understood taking care of customers, they were nimble enough to respond to a situation where all the nuances aren’t clear to us yet.

Then today, I received an email from Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO of Target. He once again acknowledged the breach, truly apologized and then noted that since they valued their customer’s trust and loyalty, they offered us one year of free credit monitoring through Experian’s ProtectMyID product, which includes identity theft insurance. He thanked me for my patience and loyalty and included a phone number. After reading his email I have a very clear picture of what Target stands for as it relates to customer service.

So as a customer of Target and Mission Federal Credit Union, I learned some things organizations can do to make customers feel valued, respected, and loyal, especially after a very public criminal incident.  They are:

  1. Be honest with your customers. Trust that they will know what to do with the information you share with them.
  2. Apologize – even though it was beyond your control.
  3. Proactively do the right thing. Don’t hesitate, or wait.
  4. Make amends to gain back trust and loyalty.

If your organization isn’t quite prepared for a data crime involving customer information, Target offers a great model. If you work within the banking industry, Mission Federal’s response created a ‘customer for life’ response.

About the author:

Barbara Notre is Director of Corporate Communications and Initiatives for The Ken Blanchard Companies.  You can read Barbara’s posts as a part of our customer service series which appears twice a month here on LeaderChat.

One thought on “Customer Service in the Time of a Data Breach

  1. An organization can also get in the habit of doing Worse Case Scenario planning so that they are ready to implement the 4 steps quickly. It saves time and saves face, if you are prepared.

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