Call Centre Security- Looking After Your Customer’s Data

Nov 24
call centre security

Call Centre Security- Looking After Your Customer’s Data

So I’m sure we all heard in the news last week that offshore call centre agents are selling the personal customer data of some of the big telco’s for a nominal price (by Australian standards). Scary stuff- your customers trust that their data is safe with your company, and the slightest inkling that your call centre security is not up to scratch may send them running for the hills. This inherent trust in the security of some of the biggest companies in Australia has been shaken, so it’s probably a good idea to understand how these breaches can happen and put in place tools to prevent it. The following tips should help you get your head around what is a pretty big concern for the industry right now.

Focus on recruitment

When you’re short staffed, and no one is saying ‘hey you’re having a tough time, we’ll reduce your targets this month’ (except in those lovely work-related dreams)- something has to give. It’s easy to just focus on getting behinds on seats and putting them to work. This is a totally understandable mindset, but a call centre can represent the biggest threat in an organisation from a security perspective. The volume of customer data that is transacted every day, the hectic nature of the centres, and the transitional nature of the employees are all red flags when it comes to possible security breaches. It pays to put in some security checks as part of your recruitment process. Have a good look at the person’s work history- have they jumped from one job to another quickly or have then stayed put- this might indicate the potential to develop company loyalty. Finally, trust your gut. Have a conversation with them, try to establish a connection. Remember your customers will be needing to make a connection too. If something is telling you this person is not right, trust your instinct. The impact of a smaller team is nothing compared to the devastating effects of hiring someone unscrupulous.

Multi-tier your access

Not everyone needs to see or hear everything. Effective call centre security is dependent on the right systems being in place. Work up an access plan, so agents can’t listen to other agents, and only trusted supervisors can listen to their teams. Get yourself the right software that can restrict the amount of data visible at any one time. Agent seniority and clearance should dictate what data they can view, download and share. Don’t allow printing or mass exporting of data- we should be thinking of the trees anyway. Consider restricting agent use access of mobile phones at their stations- keep it to their breaks. It’s doesn’t take long to snap a pic of a screen with a phone. It might sound like the least fun work environment in the world, but like anything it’s all in the messaging- you’re not saying you don’t trust them, you are fulfilling the expectations of your customers that your company has promised. Include this stuff in your recruitment process so everyone is going in well aware of the expectations of their behaviour in the role from day one.

Educate your people

As the bad guys get smarter, quicker and find new ways to access your customer’s data, your security protocol must be updated at the same place. This means you’ll need to have constant refreshers for your agents so they are across what is required of them at all times. Your call centre security is only as good as your agents on your front line, so make sure your team understand the security systems in place and their role in this. Don’t beat them about the head with threats but have a clear process in place for security breaches- from instant dismissal to warnings. Put these guidelines in all your agent contracts.

Understand your people

Call centre agents can often come from low-income areas (particularly offshore call centres), and are in some cases are entry level workers. Employees who struggle financially can be vulnerable to offers for cash for data, and those who see the job as a transitional situation rather than anything long term, can worry less about repercussions. Help your call centre security situation by engendering some brand loyalty in your agents by spending time with them, and building relationships. Help them understand their role in the bigger picture of the company, share your values, goals and strategy. Have the small, 2-minute, standing-by-their-desk chats throughout the day as this can help you get to know them, as well as keep an eye on them. Don’t make them feel like you don’t trust them, as this can impact motivation and performance. Just keep the lines of communication open- it’s a conversation not an interrogation.

Remember, a key factor of a successful team is trust. Ensure you have the right processes and systems in place- then trust your people. If you become aware of changes in behaviour through your routine checks, ask some questions. Red flags are things like:

  • an unusual amount of copying or moving files (which won’t happen if you have the right system in place)
  • a high level of private mode browsing
  • any attempt to mess with any security controls

As a people manager, you should know your team and if you pay attention you may pick up on unusual behaviour. Recruit well, have the right systems, and observe your agents. This should help manage the inherent risk of the dreaded call centre security breach. Remember, your Customer Experience needs to be underpinned by trust in your company, and knowing their data is safe is key.

Need a game plan to win on the customer experience battlefield?


Flickr credit: jocelynbyrd