How to Improve Call Center Security
Europe’s wide-reaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has led to millions of dollars of fines levied on American companies for failing to comply with the EU’s consumer data protection policies. Now, U.S. laws are following that model in their own bid to mitigate the growing risk of widespread data breaches, which have grown in both frequency and scale during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most prominent of these laws is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which has been in effect since January 1, 2020. Designed to provide stricter consumer data protection policies while also holding executives and boardrooms more directly responsible for their organization’s failure to achieve “reasonable security”, the CCPA is being followed by similar moves by other states. (You can find a handy rundown of current state cybersecurity regulations here.)
Could your business run afoul of the CCPA? Though the CCPA specifically concerns California citizens, any business of a certain size that has an online presence available in that state can technically be held in violation, making the law virtually global. (Unsurprisingly given this new legal risk, cloud providers like Microsoft were among the first to announce their plans to comply with the law.)
Ground zero for the battle over consumer data privacy are the communications touchpoints each business has with its customers. Over-the-phone interactions, email correspondence, social media mentions, the auto-chat function on your website — each represents a potential area of risk.
And because a certain level of consumer data gathering and analytical analysis is necessary to ensure a premium customer experience (CX), businesses must also be careful to keep their internal processes and data storage activities fully in compliance, too. This requires permission from customers in the form of online consent agreements — now also mandatory as part of the CCPA (following, again, the GDPR model).
The major challenges posed by consumer data protection in the modern era have become fairly clear:
- How to make sure you’re maintaining call center security as customer touchpoints increase?
- How to ensure security as you track and utilize more and more data yielded by those touchpoints?
- How can you be sure you’re protected against the latest cyberattack methods?
- How can you ensure your at-home workforce is just as protected against the risk of data breaches as your on-site infrastructure?
9 Essential Elements for Call Center Security
These are big questions, and making sure you’re covered involves a series of foundational steps. Indeed, giving yourself the operational footprint to comply with the CCPA and other laws requires a series of well-known steps:
#1: Invest in technology sophisticated enough to accomplish all the tasks of a modern contact center, while also offering compatibility with the latest security features, patches and anti-hacking safeguards.
#2: Employ IT expert(s) who understand how to keep this technology — both the hardware and the software — in a state of constant readiness against data breaches.
#3: Employ customer care agents who understand how to use the tech in a way that minimizes the risk of a security breach while also meeting sales and marketing goals like upselling and customer satisfaction.
#4: Work to interpret and understand the latest best practices related to cybersecurity — such as those laid out by the NIST CSF — and how they apply to your specific organization and operations.
#5: Undertake a risk assessment to better understand your areas of vulnerability from an operational perspective, and how to safeguard them accordingly.
#6: Implement on-site security best practices for agents and IT personnel (as well as admin, janitorial and other workers), including sophisticated authentication, authorization and access control protocols.
#7: Implement software security protocols throughout your operational workflows, especially for sensitive info like customer databases, employee portals, knowledge bases and project management systems.
#8: Run regular compliance audits to ensure that all of your hardware and software and physical security best practices are up to par every day of the year.
#9: Implement backups and disaster readiness plans to ensure that security isn’t compromised in the face of natural or manmade disasters, extreme weather events or other unexpected crises.
Anything less than a hard-edged, holistic approach leaves your operations wide open to system breaches and customers to personal-identity thefts.
Enabling Better Consumer Data Protection with Virtual Customer Care
If this sounds like a lot to juggle, well — it is. And because of the importance of consumer data protection, it should be.
That’s why so many businesses seek expert assistance to get it right. In an era when the penalties for failure are becoming more severe, entrusting call center security to a third party helps to ensure that you’re meeting all these essential elements of consumer data protection. Even better, choosing a single on-demand partner means all of this is accomplished as a seamless whole, in one customized package.
The result isn’t just a resource that shores up security while saving significant overhead expense, but also a method to comply with new laws like the CCPA be demonstrating that your organization is working to achieve that “reasonable level.”
In the past, the use of virtual/on-demand customer care has led to a couple of questions.
- Aren’t remote agents more susceptible to security breaches since they’re not onsite and within your immediate security zone?
- Don’t cloud-based agents just add another target for potential hackers to breach your defenses and compromise your call center security?
Quite the opposite, as it turns out: By using virtual agents who work within an integrated and highly secure contact center network, you’re actually implementing a level of security that’s difficult to achieve on your own. A dedicated and experienced on-demand contact center service provider can offer a level of security and protection that very likely surpasses what you’re capable of in-house.
Other common misconceptions about on-demand virtual care are similarly overturned:
- The quality of care provided by virtual agents is just as good — often better, in fact— than in-house service. These agents are trained to operate as an extension of your brand, learning every aspect of your business. They’re also thoroughly dedicated to customer care (as opposed to filling a slot in a temp agency or climbing the ladder to another position), and that career dedication is reflected in their ability to provide a more premium level of customer care.
- And far from the too-common misconception that virtual customer care is prohibitively expensive, it’s actually much more economical than trying to implement all of the 9 points above within your own budget. Outsourcing your customer care to a specialized provider gives you access to the latest in technology, infrastructure and security best practices without the need for you to make those investments yourself.
Case study: Here’s how we overhauled a hospitality company’s call center operations, bringing it onshore to North America with 29% fewer full-time equivalents, and more productive agents that translated into a 42% increase in utilization over offshore vendors. Read more.
It’s Time to Get Serious about Consumer Data Protection. We Can Help.
If you’re serious about consumer data protection, and interested in maximizing operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction while you’re at it, virtual contact center outsourcing could be a game changer. Why not trust the experts who have worked for decades to achieve best practices in safeguarding sensitive information, and who possess the technological infrastructure and expertise to pull it off?
An industry leader in virtual networks since the 1990s, Working Solutions provides call center solutions equipped with sophisticated cybersecurity best practices.
Find out more about how we can help you achieve call center security.Contact us here to learn more.