Increased Online Security Procedures Often Leave Customers Locked Out of Their Accounts

By Tracey E. Schelmetic August 20, 2012

Given that Internet-based crime is on the rise, it's no wonder that companies that take and hold your personal information – name and social security numbers, passwords and logins, bank accounts and credit card numbers – are beefing up security to avoid losing money to theft. An unintended side effect of this, however, is it's often practically impossible to get into your own accounts.

The number of online breaches has risen significantly since 2005, and companies – particularly those that have already been burned by hackers– are making their online security more stringent.

But it's having an unpleasant side effect. According to a recent survey by intelligent virtual assistant provider Next IT, what may seem like minor nuisances to a company – customer account lockouts – can be a big issue for customers, and can actually drive them away. With every account lockout, consumer patience and loyalty is put on the line.

Here are some sobering statistics from the Next IT study:

In the past six months, almost 82 percent of respondents have been locked out of an online account.

Nearly 72 percent of those that have been locked out had to simply grit their teeth through the experience.

After three or more password-reset issues, over 55 percent of respondents will think about switching to a different account.

It's no wonder we're frustrated. We have multiple – sometimes dozens – of online accounts for banking and investment, mortgage, car loans, insurance, utilities, telecom companies, entertainment and even things like supermarket loyalty cards. Most of these sites have their own demands on how user names and passwords must be structured.

Laptop image via Shutterstock

The result is that the average American has to remember a ridiculous number of login names, passwords and “secret” answers to challenge questions. In fact, the study found that nearly 50 percent of Americans have between one and five online passwords, and nearly 37 percent have between six and 10.

So it's not a surprise that we're being locked out of our own accounts more and more often. What's the solution? Slow and cumbersome e-mail or even snail mail-based password reset processes that try customers' patience.

“These numbers are probably not surprising to the consumers that experience these frustrations on a daily basis, but they are a wake-up call to companies that they need to pay attention to their customer service channels,” said Richard Denenny, COO at Next IT. “While companies don’t necessarily have to worry about losing a customer because of an account lockout, it is a prime example of one ‘little’ problem that can snowball.”

So what's the solution? According to Next IT, there are better, both less expensive and faster ways to manage online customer account lockouts (The company offers its own solution, Access Assistant, as an example). With the help of technology, companies can make it easier for their customers to reset in the event of a lockout, simplifying business operations and appeasing frustration.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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