In case you didn’t know, data is now the world’s most valuable asset, surpassing oil. It has become a commodity for many businesses because of how much it can predict trends and identify opportunities, which brands can use to improve their business processes to stay ahead of the competition.
While there are multiple data types, one that companies can leverage is customer data. Often, businesses collect personal and behavioural details about their consumers, such as their names, contact information, and buying habits.
Regardless of the size and industry, companies work with customer data daily, which helps improve their services, like creating seamless transactions and communications.
In call centres in the Philippines, customer data is a constant variable, so keeping this information secure is crucial to avoid data breaches. A 2022 Gartner report states that 88% of company executives consider cybersecurity a direct threat to business operations rather than a mere IT problem.
If you want to know more about customer data and how call centres protect it, this infographic can guide you!
What is Customer Data?
Customer data refers to the information provided by your customers while engaging with your business via your website, social media, surveys, mobile application, and other online and offline avenues. It’s also a vital component of an effective business strategy.
By collating the necessary customer data points, you can create opportunities to improve customer experiences and fine-tune your operations over time.
Below are a few common types of customer data that businesses collect:
- Personal data can be divided into personally identifiable information (PII) and non-personally identifiable information (non-PII). The former is data that can be used to recognise an individual’s identity, such as their full name and social security number, while the latter is information you can’t use to trace or identify a person, like religion, gender, and job titles.
- Engagement data informs you about how customers interact with your brand via various marketing platforms. This includes how often a customer spends browsing through your website or how many users utilise your customer support system.
- Behavioural data helps you discover underlying patterns that your customers reveal throughout their purchase journey. Common determinants of this data include website traffic, search terms, and online purchases.
- Attitudinal data is qualitative data driven by your customer’s feelings and emotions. It refers to how they perceive your brand and offerings. Examples of attitudinal data are customer satisfaction, purchase criteria, and preferences.
Why is Call Centre Data Security Important?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FBI reported a tremendous 300% increase in cybercrimes. The transition to a work-from-home setup became a window for hackers to attack vulnerable networks and obtain sensitive data.
Data security is of utmost importance for call centres as it protects many of the company’s valuable information, including their customers’ data. Without a dependable program, they can be left defenceless against data breaches.
Apart from providing protection, data security in call centres is also important for the following reasons:
- Reputational risk
Your brand reputation can become tainted if personal information about your customers gets leaked or stolen. It can cause you to lose current customers and repel potential leads, weakening your revenue flow and making you susceptible to lawsuits.
By taking extra measures to safeguard customers’ private information, you can maintain a good public image, retain customer loyalty, and continue growing your company.
- Legal obligation
Data security in call centre work should never be taken lightly. Organisations worldwide follow several data privacy regulations that help reinforce proper data use and management in their daily operations. Below are some of the most common regulatory standards in the industry:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This privacy act protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without a patient’s consent or knowledge.
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This legal framework in the European Union (EU) law enables consumers to control personal data by holding companies accountable for how they handle and treat it.
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): This is a privacy act in California that provides consumers additional rights and protection in terms of how businesses may use their personal information.
- Financial impact
Violations in brand image and legal responsibilities regarding data breaches ultimately result in a financially damaging hit for a call centre.
According to AccuShred, companies pay 67% of a breach’s total cash cost within its first year, 22% in the second year, and 11% in the third year, on average. With this much on the line, developing and observing data security measures becomes imperative, as this practice can also be considered an investment on your organisation.
Common Data Security Threats in Call Centres
Call centres often work with sensitive information like credit card details and social security numbers, making them major targets for data security threats. Because of how sneaky and clever hackers are nowadays, it’s crucial to know their tactics and observe cyberattack patterns.
Here are some common data security threats in call centres:
- Denial of service attacks
This tactic involves hackers that overwhelm centre resources by excessively making calls until the service is no longer available for those who need it. The goal is to either distract the contact centre from another hacking operation or request ransomware payment to end the attack.
- Social engineering
Fraudulent calls manipulate or deceive call centre agents into granting fraudsters access to the customer or company accounts and basic information. Bad actors can also pose as call centre agents, enabling them to transfer money, acquire more personal information, and sell it.
- Hacking and data breaches
Identity thieves and fraudsters are the usual buyers of personal information. Perhaps the most common form of security threat is hacking and data breaches, which involve cybercriminals obtaining financially valuable data (e.g., name, date of birth, card details) from call recordings and transcripts. Once hackers steal this data, they are sold on the dark web.
- Insider threats
These internal threats involve bribing, threatening, or acting carelessly towards call centre agents, creating security risks among employees. Agents can also be threatened by criminals to share sensitive information.
Data breaches may also occur from insufficient security awareness and carelessness if call centre staff are inexperienced.
6 Ways to Protect Customer Data in a Call Centre
Understanding the types of data threats in a call centre is a good start, but preventing them from happening entails applying different methods of protecting customer data from cyberattacks. Here are a few tips and tricks to achieve effective call centre data security:
1. Limit data access on a user-by-user basis
Not all of your employees require access to every company file and folder, so you should only permit access to information that’s appropriate to each one. You can do so by implementing a firewall or setting up passwords, making it difficult for the wrong person to grab hold of sensitive customer information.
2. Encrypt all sensitive data
Encrypting sensitive data is a must as it’s not just your employees that you’re looking after but also customers who trust your business to keep their information well-guarded. Encryption tools conceal sensitive data (from payment details to health information privacy), keeping cybercriminals at bay.
3. Conduct training and refresher exercises for agents
Training sessions are essential to ensure that your staff understands the value of data privacy and the importance of guarding it to the best of their abilities.
Taking necessary steps such as covering call centre agent best practices in your onboarding processes, being well-versed in password security, and reporting breaches are good ways to educate or refresh your employees on handling data security effectively and efficiently.
4. Update all systems regularly
By updating your systems regularly, you eliminate existing security loopholes in your daily operations. Doing this also protects your call centre’s network from potential security threats that may have emerged after the previous update.
5. Implement cloud technologies
One of the rising trends in business operations today is cloud technology. Cloud products are one of the safest options for call centres, as providers implement strict security measures to protect the customer’s personal information.
6. Know what data you hold about customers
It’s important to track down all customer data entrusted to your call centre’s care, as well as to determine where to store all this data, how to store it, and who can access it. It would be best if you had a dedicated team to keep critical data, such as contact names, email addresses, and contact numbers, in check at all times.
Securing Security for Your Call Centre’s Success
Now, more than ever, data is a valuable commodity and will continue to be so in the digital world. Due to its flexibility and various benefits, it’s an asset for businesses. Conversely, data is also a liability, as it comes with the responsibility of protecting it against cybercriminals who are out to exploit it.
Call centres are major sources of customer data. Daily exchanges are made wherein confidential data is shared with the agents and placed under their care. Keeping customer data should be a top priority for call centres, as this can make or break operations, leading to numerous impacts that can cause businesses damage if left unattended.
If you want to partner with a call centre that offers top-notch data security paired with expert services, check out Select VoiceCom. We’re a HIPAA-certified call centre in the Philippines that offers professional and affordable services on ancillary functions that can help scale your business!
Ready to enhance your data security and partner with the best agents in the field? Contact us for more details!