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May 18th, 2016

New Payment Options Affect on Call Center Customer Service

Call centers are starting to offer new payment options to customers in an effort to shore up security, boost efficiency and increase compliance. These methods, however, are leaving in their wake potential customer dissatisfaction.

Recently I learned of a new way to make a payment when you call into the contact center. They send you a link that requires you to enter via phone, tablet or computer all the necessary details including name, address, credit card number, etc. What happens if you're in the car though? If so, this can become a major inconvenience as you would not be able to complete your transaction until you had access to a web-connected device. What if you were purchasing/ordering something critical that you needed right away? This delay could significantly inconvenience you, and that isn't good.

Not too long ago I was on the phone with my utility company because I had just moved homes and wanted to transfer the billing into my name. When it was time to provide my credit card information, the agent transferred me over to the IVR. This angered me because I would have to dial back in if I had any additional questions, as the agent was no longer available to me after the transfer to the IVR.

These are just two examples of how compliance, security and efficiency are driving new ways of capturing payment, and as you can see, the result isn't always pretty. Sure, payment via web link or IVR is probably more secure than verbalizing your credit card number over the phone to an agent who might be just 17. But what about customer convenience and preference? Is that all but forgotten in these dictated scenarios?

The point I'm trying to make here is that call centers and companies in general are starting to dictate how payment is made, and sometimes it can be inconvenient or frustrating to customers. And that isn't good, right? Isn't the customer always right? If so, how come we aren't given options for how we want to pay? Shouldn't I as a consumer have the ability to choose whether or not I want to give my credit card number over the phone, be transferred to an IVR or click a web link to pay online? This should be my right, shouldn't it?

As a side note, there is yet another way payment can be made today while on the phone with a contact center representative, and this approach adds a layer of security and convenience as the representative stays on the line the whole time and never hears the credit card number. The way it works is the customer enters his/her credit card number via their telephone keypad while the agent stays on the line. All numbers are encrypted on the agent's screen and the data is securely routed to a PCI server.

If contact centers were to adopt this approach, along with the others mentioned in this article, and offer them to consumers as payment alternatives, think about how much better the customer experience would be for everyone.