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August 25th, 2016

Protecting Sensitive Customer Data with At-Home Agents

PCI, HIPAA, Telemarketing Sales Rule and many other regulations today are all about protecting personal customer data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. To help keep this data secure, many call centers restrict the contact center agent's desktop from plugging in thumb drives and even keeping pen and paper on hand - just in case. Some businesses even take remote screen shots of at-home agents, record their desktop activity as well as their telephone interactions. Still, others go as far as remotely monitoring their keystrokes. 

These and other protective measures do go a long toward protecting this sensitive data, but they are extreme, costly, require dedicated resources to monitor at-home agent activity, and it casts organizational doubt on the integrity of the agent. Moreover, what happens when the agents aren't under the watchful eye of the organization at all and operate outside of the contact center?

The employment of at-home agents are on the rise. According to a recent Forrester Research report, almost 1 in three companies plan to invest in at-home agents. How can these businesses leverage this trend while also maintaining secure customer data?

New DTMF touchtone technology can be employed within a contact center to capture sensitive customer data securely and anonymously via the customer's telephone keypad. This works for all agents, even those working from home. Once it's time for the caller to provide credit card information, for example, during a call, the at-home agent has the customer key-in their digits, and the DTMF system recognizes the sounds from the keys and translates that into actual numbers. This is all happening behind the scenes and is not visible to the at-home (or in-house) agent. The agent merely sees encrypted numbers being populated on their screen. Once complete, this data is routed directly to a secure PCI server, and it never reaches the agent, the network or even the call recording system.

In this scenario, which is happening already in contact centers across the globe, the agent can stay on the phone with the customer during the data capture portion of the call (the customer isn't routed to another agent for payment collection), and the at-home agent can work freely without the organization fearing any sensitive customer data can be accessed.  No need to worry about thumb drives, pens, paper, access to recorded calls, etc. Problem solved.