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May 18th, 2016

DTMF Technology: For All Kinds of Companies

Companies of all sizes and in all industries care about keeping customers. And it’s a fact of business: If customers aren’t comfortable with you, your products, or your level of service, there are usually other options available to them. For businesses in the “customer” business (and that means any business), ensuring the privacy and security of customer information ranks among the highest priorities. That’s why proactive enterprises are looking for ways to eliminate the risk, worry, and time associated with capturing credit card or other sensitive personal data. We’re talking about a natural evolution in the contact-center industry, with the potential to radically improve the commerce process for all consumers moving forward – one transaction at a time.

Driving this evolution is DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency) technology, which for customers and customer-service agents works something like this:

  • As a customer enters information on their phone keypad, the DTMF system captures and translates the keypad entry tones into their representative numbers. For example, when a customer presses the number 1, the DTMF system hears the tone at 1209 HZ and knows this equates to number 1.

  • The agent on the line is unable to enter digits into his or her keyboard and can only see visual cues (e.g., asterisks) as each digit is entered by the customer. In the background, data capture technology is capturing those digits and holding them temporarily until all of the appropriate information is received. 

  • Once the data has been entered by the customer, the agent clicks the “submit” button and the non-sensitive data (account #, amount of transaction, etc.) is paired with the sensitive data (credit card number, social security number, etc.). 

  • At the moment the submit button is selected, the digits are released and inserted into a secure portal, which serves as a payment gateway for credit cards and a secure identity server for social security numbers and credit card data, e.g. Either way, the digits are encrypted to prevent corruption or erroneous capture and misuse of the information.

  • If a customer insists on verbally sharing their information, an agent can select bypass mode, which allows the agent to enter the numeric digits manually by the customer’s verbal command. When this happens, a command can be sent to the recording system to pause the recording until the sensitive information is received. Once all information is captured, another command is sent to the recording system to resume. 

Companies that can benefit from this technology include:

  • Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) – BPOs can use this technology to reduce PCI scope and increase payment security in their contact centers. BPOs can also gain competitive advantage by offering their clients a unique, value-added solution when they choose to outsource the payment processing of a call.

  • Cable TV Companies – Large cable TV providers can use this technology to ensure that customers can provide their credit card information through their telephone keypads without the agent seeing or hearing the information. Instead, this information goes directly into the back-end payment system. Validation is returned and the transaction is completed all while the agent maintains the conversation with the customer.  

  • Healthcare Facilities – Healthcare facilities can use DTMF to integrate their billing and recording systems to add one more layer of security for customers and ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. 

  • Financial Services Enterprises – Financial enterprises, those large, small, and in-between, can use this technology to offer peace of mind to customers that their confidential financial data is protected.