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How to ensure contact center compliance in 2023 (+ checklist)

Priyanka Malik

December 13, 20228 min read

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Contact centers capture large volumes of customer-sensitive data that must be handled with due diligence and in compliance with regulatory standards. Hence, contact centers are bound by laws that are governed by their operating location and vendor.

Is compliance restricted only to data security?

Certainly not. Support teams face the added challenge of maintaining customers' trust & a healthy brand image. But with scaling businesses and increasing regulations, contact centers find it challenging to stay on top of the latest compliance norms. 

Let's dive in to explore different compliance requirements and proven strategies to avoid non-compliance.

What is contact center compliance?

Contact center compliance is adherence to the rules and standards set by a regulatory body. The norms vary for different countries and industries. Non-compliance with these call center compliance standards can result in heavy penalties for organizations.

Importance of contact center compliance

There are three primary reasons why contact center compliance is vital for a business and its customers. 

1. Security and privacy

Modern customers prefer the online route for interacting with brands. The pandemic has further accelerated digital transactions by three times

However, digital spaces are susceptible to data theft, privacy breaches, and other security compromises. Customer consent is another factor that weighs in a consumer’s right to privacy of their personal information, giving them the long-pending opportunity to seize control of their own information. Compliance with global data protection and security protocols will establish a culture of due diligence that takes care of sensitive information involving your company and its customers.

2. Avoid penalties

Organizations incur steep monetary penalties for data breaches and non-compliance. It impacts the revenue and damages a brand's reputation. According to KPMG, 55% of leading companies have incurred revenue losses due to regulatory fines or non-compliance.

3. Quality assurance

Quality assurance is an internal measure of call center compliance that companies follow. It allows customer service managers to monitor customer interactions and evaluate them for quality, speed, responsiveness, and adherence to guidelines.

Top 6 challenges in call center compliance

Quality assurance keeps your contact center vigilant about risks that can cost your company extensively. Here are a few call center compliance issues that impact quality of compliance:

1. Recording calls without consent

In countries such as Australia and the USA, call centers need consent from both agents and customers to record and monitor the calls. This rule is specifically applicable, when a contact center has implemented an agent performance monitoring application.

2. Making calls to the numbers in the DNC List

Countries such as Singapore and India have a national Do Not Call (DNC) registry where people add their contact numbers if they don’t want to receive telemarketing calls. Call centers and BPO providers who violate this registry are liable to pay fines up to $40000. You can either subscribe to the DNC lists or delist the contacts from your database to avoid non-compliance.

3. Lack of communication protocols

Often, in cases of customer complaints or events of debt collection, there can be a heated conversation. Agents must not lose their calm in such situations. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, during the debt collection process, the collector must not abuse or harass the defaulter.

4. Neglecting negative feedback 

Ignoring negative feedback can result in poor brand perception and reduces customers’ trust. It also indicates the company’s lack of willingness to take feedback seriously.

5. Inadequate agent training and information repositories

When support executives have to sift through different resources, it creates an agent-customer disconnect. However, agents feel empowered to offer support to their best ability when the company provides them with the required resources & training to make their job simpler.

6. Lack of processes to handle reputational risks

Organizations must monitor and prioritize their PR risks. Every company requires a set procedure for crisis management to take control of the situation with an onus. The lack of clear brand guidelines impact your agent's performance and support quality.

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Top 4 compliance types in contact centers

Although there are different types of call center compliance standards, here are the top four commonly used compliances:

1. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS compliance prohibits contact centers from capturing payment-related sensitive data such as CVV, PIN, and magnetic stripe information. Agents must use call center compliance solutions such as redaction software which identifies and deletes sensitive information during the interaction.

2. Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA compliance safeguards patients' health information. Contact centers must increase their network security and allow only authorized access to their private communications network. Leveraging cloud service providers will ensure administrative and technical controls while transmitting medical information.

3. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

TCPA compliance ensures agreeable communication between agents and customers. Here are a few of the TCPA compliance call center requirements:

  • Telemarketers must not use automatic dialers to contact wireless phones

  • Customers can withdraw their consent at any time

  • Contact center agents cannot call reissued phone numbers without prior consent

  • Agents must disclose their identity and purpose for calling the customers

  • Agents must not violate outbound dialing restrictions

4. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR compliance guides organizations in collecting and processing personally identifiable information (PII) for European Union residents. The regulation allows customers to request contact centers to erase their stored information.

Your contact center compliance also needs standards for network and workplace security. You can reinforce these by deploying firewalls, compliance management platforms, SSO and password maintenance systems, anti-virus software, and VPN. Here's a list of comprehensive contact center compliances for your reference:

An image showing the list of compliance certifications required by a contact center

8-step strategy to ensure contact center compliance 

Monitoring customer-agent interaction is vital for offering quality support. However, it can be challenging for contact centers to keep a check on all the processes and agents. Here is an eight-step checklist to ensure that your call center is compliant.

Contact-Center-Compliance-Checklist

1. Train agents to anticipate or face  out of the box scenarios

Equip your agents to handle challenging situations they don’t face regularly. Train them to keep a contingency plan if support interactions indicate that a customer is disgruntled or near churn. Support them with the following action items:

  • Ensure a customer-first culture that puts customer satisfaction over business outcomes

  • Sensitize agents to customer problems allowing them to empathize with customers

  • Deploy guided training that runs different support scenarios to prepare your agents for a range of customer issues

2. Study your customers’ background information before interacting with them

To improve customer support quality, agents must be proactive and understand the context behind every customer interaction. Deploy a system that allows agents to quickly study historical interactions and make educated decisions based on customers’ explicit and implicit preferences. The call center compliance automation empowers agents to manage the customer experience from a single, unified platform.

An image showing important customer details that help focus on support quality

3. Audit your agents' responses for quality and compliance

Perform timely and continual audits of your agent interactions to ensure they adhere to the brand voice and suggest the best courses of action to the customer. Help them introspect and fine-tune their approach to handling the customers better. Here are a few tips for the audit:

An infographic showing 3 key elements of an agent's performance
  • Approval workflows: create workflows to ensure brand-approved messages for unique cases and loop the rejected messages back to the agent for ongoing performance improvements.

  • CSAT and NPS scores: record customers’ feedback through post-resolution surveys and online reviews to calculate NPS scores and CSAT ratings. Review your product offerings and your approach to customer support after identifying the roadblocks they face.

  • Customer journey: audit agent action throughout a customer journey and customize training programs based on their limitations.

4. Proactively engage on downtime & security issues

Earn your customer's trust by being forthcoming about potential issues. Trigger proactive messages when there are downtimes and signs of security issues rather than trying to cover them.

Take a predictive approach by configuring alerts for:

An infographic showing different alerts that must be configure

5. Handle crises with a sense of urgency

Prioritize high-risk interactions that require assurances and speedy resolutions. Follow a well-planned escalation workflow when such instances occur. Set up a crisis communication panel to ensure there are no PR problems.

Another way to do it is by deploying an FAQ bot for quick responses. You can also manage escalations and complaints by building intuitive workflows in a complaint management engine as shown below:

An image showing an intuitive escalation workflow

6. Add intelligence and credibility to your voice support strategy

With digital transformation, asynchronous customer care has gained popularity over traditional support channels. But it takes a call or any form of voice interaction to resolve specific customer issues, which involves technology and prolonged agent guidance. The best way to implement a smart call center strategy is to bolster voice as a support channel with modern insights and tracking mechanisms. 

Requirements of a modern call center compliance framework

  • Deploy a VoIP system for better scalability and flexibility: VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems are a considerable step up from conventional telephone networks as the customer data doesn’t reside in an analog silo. VoIP offers more call routing mechanisms for agent productivity and gives immense visibility into your call center performance. VoIP systems also let you scale your support or make operational changes.

  • Leverage integrated cloud telephony for a unified experience: integrate your cloud telephony system with an omnichannel customer experience tool for better context. With this, your agents can understand customer intent and preferences through their interactions on other channels and provide a coherent, unified customer experience.

  • Reduce call volume and wait times with IVR: set up automated self-serve paths through IVR (interactive voice response) telephony to enable customers to record their grievances for a call-back instead of waiting in long queues. IVR collects information about the customer issue with automated prompts and gracefully routes the call to the correct human agent.

image5

7. Leverage AI and automation to avoid brand risks

AI and automation are known to improve agent productivity by taking up repetitive tasks and reducing the workload. Here are a few tips for implementing AI in your contact centers:

  • Deploy troubleshooting prompts to reduce human error: help your agents address customer queries through step-by-step prompts by configuring guided workflows.

  • Use AI-generated prompts while communicating brand messages: make sure your agents use brand-appropriate verbiage while responding to risk-related queries.

  • Set up FAQ bots that ring in 24/7 support: leverage FAQ bots to deliver accurate information and answers from your knowledge base to customers, even without the need for a live agent. 

  • Configure rules to detect customer intent: prioritize social media posts and other customer interactions with your brand that need urgent attention by setting up rules to detect intent.

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8. Track brand mentions with social listening

Mitigate future risks by monitoring the perception of your brand on social media. Social listening helps you pay special attention to posts that might need your intervention to avoid bad PR. You can either manually skim through social media channels or aggregate data from multiple support channels through an omnichannel customer care console

Sprinklr’s unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform integrates social listening, customer care, workforce management, and other customer-facing functions of a business to deliver delight through every stage of a customer life cycle.

Other ways to derive enterprise-grade insights from social listening:

  • Get invaluable brand insights from channels beyond support, such as customer reviews on Yelp and Trustpilot

  • Prioritize social media posts that might affect brand health by assessing customer sentiment through AI

  • Consolidate customer messages and public posts by augmenting your social listening strategy with high-impact keywords

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