Call center compliance—no one likes to think about it, yet it’s also essential to get right.
The impact of non-compliance is high:
- a tarnished reputation
- loss of client trust
- loss of business and revenue
- expensive legal fees or fines
But maintaining compliance in a call center isn’t always as easy as setting up policies once and never looking at them again. In this article, our call center team—with over 40 years of experience managing and maintaining compliance for enterprise operations—will show you what you need to know about compliance and best practices for maintaining it.
The Landscape of Compliance in Call Center Operations
What exactly does compliance cover in call center operations? For enterprise operations, there are several layers to compliance, including:
- local, national and global regulatory concerns
- industry-specific compliance regulations, such as HIPAA
- call center or brand-specific compliance rules
For example, a global regulatory concern would be a regulation such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Although this is an EU-based standard, any business that accepts and stores information for EU-based customers must adhere to GDPR standards.
Local or national regulations in the US refer to things like Call Monitoring Consent—a regulation that ensures that callers know when or if their calls are being monitored or recorded—or the Do Not Call Registry—which allows consumers to opt out of telemarketing calls and must be observed by telemarketing call centers.
Industry specific compliance regulations can be narrow, such as HIPAA, which protects personally identifiable health information. However, other industry-specific compliance regulations are more broad and apply to many industries, such as PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. Any contact center that accepts or processes credit card payments must be PCI-compliant.
And of course, there may be certain call center compliance regulations that individual call centers enforce as well, such as adhering to scripts, policies, certain levels of friendliness, or so on. All of these layers of compliance are essential to maintaining a call center, but they can also be challenging to manage.
Challenges in Maintaining Call Center Compliance
Not only are there many challenges in maintaining all the different types of compliance necessary, there are a number of other common compliance challenges amongst call centers as well. For example:
Keeping up with changing regulations. While some compliance regulations are fairly standard, others change or are updated frequently. GDPR is a good example of a new compliance regulation, with stricter standards than many previous regulations, while other standards, such as HIPAA undergo regular updates every few years.
Training staff to meet compliance requirements. Training staff on compliance regulations is a challenge from the start—but add to it changing requirements and new regulations and it becomes difficult to ensure everyone gets on, and stays on, the same page.
Ensuring data privacy and protection. Once you’ve trained your staff on compliance—and all the various forms and regulations—you also have to monitor and ensure compliance across day-to-day operations. Given the many operations of most call centers, as well as the volume of calls and customer interactions, ensuring call center compliance is often easier said than done.
Addressing cross-border call center operations. Finally, when your call center operates in a country other than the one your company operates in—or, more complicated, if your company operates in multiple states or countries—you have to address cross-border compliance concerns. Your call center will need to adhere to local laws as well as international regulations, as well as local laws and regulations for any audience you serve.
Best Practices for Ensuring Call Center Compliance
So, how can your call center ensure compliance, even amidst the challenges and changes of compliance requirements?
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Follow these best practices.
- Keep employees updated with regular training and refreshers. One of the best ways to ensure your call center is compliant is to ensure that employees stay updated with regular compliance information, and to keep compliance top-of-mind for employees. The more training you can do, the more employees will be familiar with compliance regulations and eventually find them second-nature. In addition, ongoing training provides regular updates for changing regulations, and sends a strong signal that compliance is a priority for your call center.
- Implement robust data protection measures. In cases where compliance can vary from state to state or country to country, make a habit of implementing the most robust compliance or protection measures available. Doing so not only helps ensure you are meeting minimum requirements, but also reduces your risk of data breaches or other security leaks. Provide mandatory disclosures, keep customers informed of security or data protection needs as necessary, and have strict regulations for managing sensitive information.
- Perform regular audits and quality control checks. Audits of your compliance processes and regulations can not only help assess and ensure compliance from employees, but can also proactively identify and address any areas of concern. Regular monitoring and quality control checks can ensure compliance from agents on a day-to-day basis and highlight any areas where further training or updating protocol is needed as well.
- Use modern technology and compliance monitoring tools. Manual monitoring is traditionally how compliance was measured and verified, but with the level of call and communication volume most call centers see today, it’s simply not possible. Modern technology and monitoring systems allow you to record and monitor every call, chat, email or other communication and automatically analyze them for compliance with internal and industry standards. This allows management and QA managers to more effectively and quickly monitor compliance and address any problems or concerns. Some modern technology can also flag the agent in real-time, allowing them to correct the compliance error immediately, rather than having to wait for a supervisor to notice and alert them.
Impact of Non-Compliance
Obviously, non-compliance is not just an inconvenience—it’s a major problem that can have serious repercussions for your business. For example:
Legal and financial repercussions: Many compliance regulations and standards come with fines or penalties for non-compliance. This can hurt your call center and your clients’ businesses, as well as be expensive and time-consuming to fix.
Damaged brand reputation: A compliance error, security leak or data breach can spell disaster for you and your clients. A call center that gets a reputation for being insecure or non-compliant may face down that reputation for years or even decades, losing business and revenue in the meantime. In addition, it can cause major problems for your clients’ reputation as well, potentially leading to data breaches or other security issues that stain their reputation for years.
Loss of customer trust: With a tarnished reputation comes a loss of customer trust, which of course has a significant impact on customer loyalty, retention and overall sales and revenue. Once lost, customer trust is difficult to earn back, which is a major factor of why compliance is so essential for call centers.
Preparing for the Future: Evolving Compliance Norms
As new technologies become more common and sophisticated, compliance norms are continuing to evolve alongside them. In some cases, those new technologies are making it easier than ever to stay compliant. But in other cases, an emergence of new technology creates a resurgence in interest in customer privacy and data security.
Both of these are true in 2023 and beyond—and call centers should be actively using technology to keep up with changing compliance norms. For example, speech or text analytics can be used to automatically record, scan, transcribe and score calls or other communications to help maintain or monitor compliance. In addition, AI-powered analytics tools can monitor compliance based on speech or text analytics, allowing to monitor higher volumes, more quickly, and ensure that your agents are staying compliant on every call.
One thing is staying the same: customers are increasingly concerned with their privacy and data, and they are increasingly drawn to companies they can trust. Your call center is an essential element in creating a trustworthy brand—so if it isn’t already, move “call center compliance” to the top of your priority list.
Conclusion: A Proactive Approach to Call Center Compliance
While call centers need to be continuously vigilant with monitoring and maintaining compliance, you also want to ensure that your call center team is working efficiently and effectively to manage call volume and compliance standards.
Today’s modern technology makes it easier than ever to efficiently monitor and enforce call center compliance—but having the right call center team, who trains agents effectively and implements the right technology and QA processes—is also key.
For a call center team you can trust with your most sensitive customer or patient data, contact ROI CX Solutions. We have decades of experience managing and maintaining call centers and BPO operations for clients in healthcare, insurance, financial and other sensitive sectors—and we’re here to make sure your call center stays compliant, every time.