Does outsourcing necessarily make your data less secure? Or is it possible to protect customer data just as well when an outsourcing provider gets involved?
Customer information and data security are only becoming more important as more and more customer data becomes available. In general, companies are storing 3x as much customer data as they did five years ago, and almost twice as much data per individual customer.
And, in many cases, this data is stored in the cloud, or in cloud-based platforms, which creates unique data protection challenges. Data breaches are becoming increasingly common, with 2022 seeing more breaches than ever before. In addition, they’re affecting more consumers as well—almost 40% of US consumers were affected by some kind of data breach in 2022.
As such, companies have more pressure and responsibility than ever to increase data security and protect customer data.
Have you considered how your call center factors into customer data security?
Call centers handle huge amounts of customer data. A great call center will shore up your security and follow best practices to increase security and reduce risk of data breaches. However, a novice call center or outsourcing partner may not have the resources or expertise to do so, creating more risk for your company.
What security risks are most common with call centers, and what should you (and your call center provider) be doing to mitigate them? That’s what we’ll explore in this article.
Understanding Call Center Security Risks
In general, call center security risks fall under one of two categories: internal risks or external risks.
Internal risks are generally the result of either agent error or call center oversight—that is to say, they’re generally preventable. However, actually preventing them requires a number of regulations and steps that many lower-quality call centers may not have the time, resources or desire to execute.
External risks are generally what one might think of when it comes to data breaches and threats—an external person, not affiliated with the company, call center or customer base, attempts to gain access to information by bypassing or infiltrating established security measures. While such threats can’t be extinguished completely, they can be mitigated through careful security techniques.
Whatever the source of the security threat, data breaches have a massive impact on call centers, businesses and customers. For customers, sensitive data such as passwords, personal information, payment info and more can all be leaked to cybercriminals, resulting in expensive and time-consuming processes to re-secure accounts and even their own identity. For businesses and call centers, data breaches can create a massive lack of trust in public opinion, resulting in loss of profits and customer loyalty for years down the line.
Whether you operate your call center in-house or outsource, the threat of both internal and external risks still exist. The key is in how risks are managed—and whether or not you’re managing every other aspect of your call center, this is one area that you should be very involved in.
But how to best manage your call center risks? In the next section, we’ll guide you through some best practices to look for when outsourcing your call center to best mitigate security risks.
Best Practices for Outsourcing Call Center Security
Obviously, one of the most important ways you can protect your customer’s data when outsourcing is to select a reputable and trustworthy outsourcing partner.
Look for at least the following as signs of a trustworthy and secure partner:
- certified in key regulations (i.e. PCI compliance and SOC-2 compliance)
- has high-quality testimonials and reviews from other clients
- has an established reputation with years of experience in handling data
- provides processes for ongoing data security upgrades and audits
- no major data breaches or security disruptions in recent history
Of course, data security is not solely reliant on the call center provider—your organization should also prioritize ongoing monitoring and audits of your outsourcing partners to ensure everything is up to par. By staying involved in data security measures and auditing your call center’s existing practices regularly, you can help mitigate risk while also taking advantage of new technology to improve security.
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Implementing Data Security Measures
Which data security measures are most important, though?
As you implement data security measures across your call center, consider how to increase security across all angles:
- from a device perspective
- from a user perspective
- from internal and external perspectives
- from a customer perspective
What does this look like?
For example, encryption, firewalls and other basic security measures can ensure that data is stored safely on any devices or platforms it’s kept on. These don’t have to be complicated—encrypted data simply ensures that anyone who doesn’t have the access key can’t see it. While there are many layers to encryption—and generally, the more sophisticated, the more safe your data—even basic layers are a good start.
In addition, implementing employee-based or role-based access to data can help strengthen data security from a user perspective. As mentioned above, many internal security breaches or threats come from agent errors. As such, preventing agents from having access to more data than they need can help protect against unintended errors and unauthorized access.
It’s important to consider the customer perspective as well. For example, requiring customers to create secure passwords, change passwords regularly, use two-factor authentication and take other security steps can help to create more secure accounts for everyone. An added benefit: this demonstrates to customers that you take data protection seriously, strengthening customer trust and loyalty.
Training Employees for Call Center Security
Of course, while implementing data security measures and taking the right precautions are important, data security is something everyone must be involved in—especially the employees who are most actively handling and processing customer data.
As such, employee training for security is an essential component of call center security and should be updated and reviewed regularly. A good outsourcing provider will:
- regularly educate and review call center security risks and best practices with employees
- provide ongoing training on secure data handling
- stay up-to-date with compliance and regulatory practices and ensure employees know them
- encourage employees to report security incidents and concerns
- regularly audit employee handling of customer data
When employees feel rushed, keeping up with data compliance and security measures can slip to the wayside. As such, conducting regular trainings and audits not only ensures that employees know what to do, but that they are following compliance procedures.
Staying Up-to-Date with Call Center Security
Of course, data security is not a one-time initiative. Just as agents need regular and ongoing training to maintain security best practices, your call center needs regular and ongoing audits and monitoring to ensure best practices as well.
How can you implement this?
- Add security and data compliance to your QA checklist, if it’s not already. This will signal to employees and stakeholders alike that data security is a priority, and ensure you regularly assess for it.
- Stay informed about emerging security threats and new solutions.
- Make use of new and updated technologies to better protect sensitive data and against new threats.
- Create a culture of security awareness and best practices—lead from the top.
- If you’re working with a call center partner, stay involved. Include security updates and reporting in your analysis and regular reports so you can understand how progress is being made.
In addition, call centers should test their security practices regularly. Don’t just audit to ensure protocols are being followed, but perform an audit to see where weaknesses and potential opportunities to improve exist.
After all, if you don’t pay attention to—and fix—your own security weaknesses, there’s no reason to believe that a cybercriminal won’t.
Finally, ensure that your security always gets an upgrade whenever your software or technology does. A major (or even minor) upgrade in software, platforms or data storage can create a crack through which cybercriminals can gain access to customer data. Remove legacy systems that are no longer securely supported, keep your antivirus and other security protections up-to-date, and consider security plans and features for any new technology that is added.
Keeping Your Customer Data Secure
Ultimately, though data security can seem highly technical, it’s important to remember that it exists to serve the customer. By protecting customer data, you earn their trust (and loyalty) and help make your brand a safe, rewarding place to shop at or work with.
Despite increasing security risks, consumers are not deterred from sharing data with brands, especially if it means a more personalized experience. According to recent surveys, 63% of consumers said they’re “fine with personalization as long as brands are using their own data and not purchased data,” and just 12% of consumers said they prefer to share “as little data as possible.”
However, just 40% of customers feel they can “trust brands to keep their personal data secure and use it responsibly.” As data breaches continue to increase alongside customers’ increasing desire for personalization, it’s reasonable for customers to want to see more effort from brands to keep that data secure.
As such, companies who can regularly audit, implement and upgrade their best practices for call center security stand to gain a lot in terms of trustworthiness for customers.
For an outsourcing solution that prioritizes best-in-class call center security, compliance and data privacy, connect with ROI CX Solutions. Our call center outsourcing providers are PCI-, SOC-2 and HIPAA compliant, and we use the latest technology and best practices to ensure your customer data stays safe.
Call center outsourcing you can trust? Connect with ROI CX Solutions today.