Telco customers at risk for online privacy breach

Study finds that telecommunications companies are slipping when it comes in addressing privacy concerns

Telcos conducting business online need to buck up customer privacy even as their ability to communicate improves.

Those are the findings of the Customer Respect Group (CRG), a research and consulting firm focused on how corporations treat their online customers. The group this week released findings from its First Quarter 2007 Online Customer Respect Study of the Telecommunications Industry.

The study found that telecommunications companies overall are slipping --- especially compared to retail and other high-tech industries -- when it comes to addressing consumers' privacy concerns.

Telecom firms ask for more personal data than companies in other industries, CRG found, and this data is often unconnected to the request being made by the customer.

"We see a race to capture customer data to perform new campaigns," states Terry Golesworthy, CRG president. "This results in some positive and negative aspects for the customer with the increased use of electronic marketing. Companies need to make sure they do not cross a line that might damage their overall brand reputations."

The study evaluated 54 Web sites across three geographies -- the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Sixty-four percent of companies ask for excessive amounts of personal data, compared with 43 percent in other industries, the group found.

The collection of data is one breach of the customer's privacy; in addition, the telecom industry goes on to reuse the data more than other industries. More than three-quarters of companies use the data for ongoing marketing, exceeding the average of 64 percent measured in other industries, CRG found.

The telcos fared much better in online communications with their customers. Just 8 percent of e-mail inquiries were ignored entirely, which is much better than the overall industry average of 24 percent and an improvement from the 13 percent ignored in the group's last report a year ago.

As for quality and timeliness of responses, nearly half of inquiries were responded to within a day and the responses were of a helpful and relevant nature. This figure is up from about one-third a year ago, CRG notes.

"We see greater detail underneath the numbers with cable companies moving from worst to first within a year," CRG states. " Wireless companies have stayed static after great gains previously, and traditional telecommunications companies after a static period have started to move up slowly."

The best responders were CenturyTel and Cox Communications, both based in the U.S., according to CRG.

The group also detected a growth in online chat, or "instant help," which was rarely found in the industry a year ago. Today 25 percent of companies have introduced that capability to answer questions, including Qwest, Comcast and Verizon, the group notes.

CRG uses a common set of criteria for each telco, from which a Customer Respect Index (CRI) is provided for each company. The CRI is a qualitative and quantitative analysis and benchmark of a customer's experience when interacting via the Internet.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jim Duffy

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?