Zurich Insurance has just lost a tape on which was data on 51,000 of its customers. I know this because I am one of them. It is pretty major data too – bank account details, address, details of specific items insured and details on your security arrangements (safes, alarms etc). Basically – short of handing over the keys to your house this is the next best thing, if it ends up in the wrong hands.
Luckily, there appears to be no evidence that this information has ended up in the wrong hands – according to Zurich.
What is going to be interesting is to see how this issue pans out. At the moment it hasn’t made it to mainstream news – just an item on the BBC website, its not in broadcast bulletins. It is dominating the Zurich space in social media however.
Zurich’s response has been to issue information to those affected – letter signed by CEO with information and apology, a reasonably detailed Q&A, offered free identity theft protection service for a year and set up a helpline (answered promptly and helpfully I might add) – a text book response.
Presumably it has mounted a heavyweight conventional media relations crisis plan. But what it hasn’t done, thus far, is address the social media space at all. Neither has it really given a huge amount of information about just what happened and why – other than to say it was lost in South Africa during a routine transfer 14 months ago. Information not calculated to provide particular reassurance I would venture to suggest. There are no plans at this stage to provide more information since the “investigation is still on-going” – according to the customer service rep who went to ask her manager specifically on this point.
Will Zurich get away with this response? It will be interesting to see. At the moment Zurich have sort-of ticked the information box, but they are very light on reassurance.
If I was advising them I would say that at the very least they should get into the social media space – in terms of monitoring and responding – at least on Twitter. I would create an information hub (blog-based) and put the Q&A information there. I would suggest becoming more personal than a letter from the CEO that is clearly not from the CEO – statement and apology on YouTube perhaps or a more personalised apology with picture attached. I would announce now a commitment to report back on the results of the “ongoing investigation” – the hub can be the platfrom to do this.
I can see the temptation to try and keep the lid on this – but even if this approach is successful (and they rarely are) the issue, as with all crises, is what happens next. As a Zurich customer I have accepted their apology, I am appreciative of the information they have provided – but I am not reassured. Losing tapes in South Africa is not what I expect from an organisation I am going to entrust with sensitive information. I will need to see evidence that this problem has been fixed. And by this I mean actual evidence – not bland statements.
Social media is an ideal space to provide this reassurance – lets see what happens.