How brands can triumph by offering customers speed, convenience and security.
When government surveillance exposé Citizen Four won the 2015 Oscar for Best Documentary, the data privacy dilemma hit home with consumers everywhere. “You will never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser or profile” – director Laura Poitras warned us. And she was right.
The trouble is that consumers want to have their cake and eat it: They expect ultimate convenience, speed and access when perusing and purchasing, but also demand guarantees that their data and (multiple) identities are protected.
From hovering over the cookies button, to the “note to self” to tighten Facebook privacy settings, few of us actually read the data privacy small print. To prove the point, Finnish computer security firm F-Secure ran a bizarre experiment in London. It invited consumers to a “free” public WiFi spot, where they were presented with what looked like a standard onscreen user license agreement to access the network. Only, in this case, F-Secure added a Herod clause that stated the user accepted to hand over “their first born child for the duration of eternity” in exchange for free WiFi – but nobody bothered to read that bit. F-Secure didn’t enforce its offspring claims, but it did make a strong statement about consumers’ unwitting preference for convenience over security.
Nowhere is this conundrum more apparent than in online banking. The global financial crisis has seen distrust for financial institutions skyrocket. In order to regain consumer trust, banks must prove that they understand their customers’ evolving needs. To simplify the online banking process, and override the inconvenience of passwords, pins and security questions, UK bank Barclays is trialling finger-vein recognition tech. Developed by Hitachi, the device includes a personal biometric scanner that uses near infrared tech to identify individuals through the unique vein in their index finger – and fits neatly into the USB port of their computer.
Turkey’s largest bank Isbank offers security-conscious on-the-go customers unhackable fingerprint-validated mobile banking through its new app. Users simply touch the screen of their Smartphone or tablet to access their account and perform routine transactions. Following suit, the country’s top telecom network Türk Telekom has ramped up access and security with a similar app that lets users touch and enter its mobile customer service centre.
Some brands are taking digital data protection to a whole new level. UK clothing brand The Affair lets vigilant individuals safeguard their information with hack-proof clothing that will “make the wearer untraceable”. Inspired by Orwell’s 1984, the clothes all feature the UnPocket, a detachable pouch that prevents all cellular, WiFi, GPS and RFID signals from getting out, or prying bots from getting in.
Consumers that are “married” to their smartphones but don’t want to compromise on privacy, can say “I do” with the UK’s NFC Ring – a wearable smart key that unlocks (and locks) everything from cell phones to cars and houses. One NFC tag lets users share and transfer info to smartphones and tablets, while the other stores private data for unlocking devices and doors.
But wearable tech isn’t for everyone, or every brand. Sometimes, reassuring consumers that they are protected and appreciated is as “simple” as adding a human touch to two-dimensional tech services – especially if your target audience includes consumers that aren’t digital natives.
Australia’s St George Bank is road-testing iBeacon tech to revolutionize its customer service. When loyal customers enter a participating branch, an iPad “recognizes” them via their phone signal, sends them a welcome message and assigns them a staff member. At the same time, the customer’s basic info is sent to whomever is assigned to serve them.
The writing’s on the wall: brands that interact with technology must respond to their customers’ complex needs: unlimited access and convenience, with assurances that their privacy is safeguarded, and their loyalty valued. In other words: #premium personalized protechion.