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May 18th, 2016

Is the Contact Center the Last Frontier in Data Security?

Lawsuits, bad press, compliance infractions and displeased customers are just some of the many reasons the world is so focused on the protection of personally identifiable information (credit card data, pin numbers, social security numbers, etc.). As a result, we are constantly seeing innovative new ways of handling the transmission and capture of PII. Think about the new credit cards we are seeing with the EMV secure chips in them. This is such a big deal that it's causing millions of small businesses (and their larger counterparts) to purchase new secure chip compatible terminals in their stores. This is being mandated by the payment card industry. Think about commerce and all the secure-transmission advances we've seen there. PayPal, for example, is leading the way in this adoption and their business is skyrocketing as a result.  People the world over trust PayPal because of their Fort Knox-like secure payment platform. 

Okay, we've talked about physical credit cards being shored up in terms of security, and we've talked about e-commerce being shored up in terms of security. Now let's think about the telephone and call centers.  What has been done there to ensure secure data capture and transmission? The answer is, not much.  Companies are still relying on old-school workarounds to capture sensitive data (credit card data, social security numbers, pin codes, etc.). Credit card companies, for example, continue to rely on snail-mail, paper-based applications for signing up new customers. Why? Because the banks don't want to open themselves up to any compliance or risk issues when capturing social security numbers over the phone.

In another scenario, when you call a company and talk to a sales rep and then when you're ready to make a purchase they forward you to the payment department who processes your credit card information. These payment people have been "properly" trained and authorized by the business to securely capture this data.  What happens if you have additional questions about something related to the product you are purchasing? The payment person doesn't have the answer. They'd need to transfer you back to the sales rep. 

The point here is that there are so many new advances in data security today, but none of them have seem to make their way into the contact center, until now. Many large companies (the usual early adopters of new technology) are now starting to employ DTMF data capture technology in their contact centers. This enables consumers to simply key in their credit card number or social security number, for instance, into their telephone keypad and then that data is securely routed right to the payment processor. The call center agent never sees the data, and the data never even touches the company's network. It is instantly and directly routed to the secure processor. This is revolutionary, right? It is, and it's also common sense if you think about it. If the problem up until now with call centers has been the secure verbal transmission of PII, then stop verbalizing it. Right?

DTMF data capture is the first step in bringing innovation into the contact center. It's about time, isn't it?