“Oh, please help! Someone stole my credit card information. I don’t know what to do!” Almost all customer service agents dread customer interactions that begin like this. But it is not uncommon for your customer service agents to come across these incidents. Not just customers but also your business may face such security challenges despite having the best systems or customer security awareness programs.
Perhaps your customer has lost their credit card on the way home, or their account details were in a data leak — there could be several reasons. That's why having a customer service security strategy is paramount. It not only helps you address the issue but also mitigates its impact on your business.
And that’s what we are discussing in this blog, where you will learn more about:
What is customer service security
The ways you can improve it in your business
Three crucial risks to keep monitoring to avoid such incidents
So, let’s start.
What is customer service security?
Customer service security is a combination of strategies, processes and measures a business adopts to protect the privacy and security of customer information and interactions.
It focuses on protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access, fraud and other security threats. And with a huge spike in digital adoption of businesses, the significance of customer service security in managing a brand cannot be stressed enough. That’s why more and more brands today are getting vigilant.
In fact, Grand View Research states that the global cybersecurity market will be worth $267.73 billion by 2027. Such a hike is anticipated as there are many risks your customer service can run into, including:
Hackers look to gain access to sensitive customer information, exploiting vulnerabilities in business systems. According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 by IBM, a data breach costs $4.45 million on average in 2023.
Identify thefts have been on the rise as online transactions have become more common. Perpetrators who steal customer information use the same to make unauthorized purchases, transactions, etc. According to a survey by U.S.News, 33% of people have been subjected to identity theft at least once.
This is common in businesses where an internal employee might leak customer data. It can happen intentionally and unintentionally — intentionally when a disgruntled employee leaks data on purpose and unintentionally when a new employee fails to meet a security compliance requirement. What’s challenging about insider threats is that 49% of businesses cannot detect these threats or can only find out about the breach after the data has been stolen.
Top 9 ways to upgrade your customer service security
You must stay prepared to face any adverse security situation. Your preparedness must be a part of your broader customer service strategy. The best way to handle such situations is to prevent them from happening. It takes a lot of effort, investment and an intelligent strategy.
Here are the top 9 ways you can improve customer service security.
1. Establish a department for security risk management
Panic is the first response of most businesses when there is a customer data breach. That’s because you probably don’t have a risk management system.
Having a crisis management department that’s responsible for responding to and mitigating data breaches must be your priority.
Such a department can help you:
Evaluate your business assets, systems and data to determine potential security threats and their impact on the business.
Develop security policies, procedures and guidelines for employees and customers to follow and create a secure environment.
Educate employees and customers with awareness campaigns and training sessions to foster a security-first business culture.
Develop and maintain an incident response strategy to promptly address data breaches, cyberattacks, etc.
2. Build a customer service security strategy
Not having a resilient security strategy in place can create a huge issue for businesses — both small and large.
When you feel like everything is falling apart, having a defined strategy to fall back can help you quickly get on top of the situation. It also helps you understand the severity of the breach and the steps to take to prevent the issue from escalating further, such as assessing the severity, notifying relevant parties, working with cyber experts, etc.
You can create a knowledge base for customer service teams with customer data policies and guidelines. This will educate them about securely collecting and sharing customer data during customer service interactions.
💡Pro tip: Your strategy should include a way to always stay current with brand perceptions floating in the market. For example, you can use AI and set up Smart Alerts to identify rapid shifts and irregularities in data and intervene before possible issues escalate into negative news stories.
3. Train and educate your employees on data security
In its study, Verizon states that over 74% of data breaches have a human element, such as misuse, errors or social engineering. This underscores the importance of training employees about the importance of data security and contact center compliance.
You need to create learning programs and awareness campaigns for the employees. The focus must be on departments where customer interactions mostly occur — sales, customer service, billing, etc.
Creating training programs is only the first step. You should also evaluate the programs regularly, look at the cybersecurity trends and tweak the training accordingly.
4. Educate customers on safe ways of communication
Customers need to know about the threats and have adequate knowledge to safeguard themselves from attacks. Hence, educate your customers about the dangers of data breaches and that they are a reality.
Many businesses are already working on educating their customers on the safest ways to interact with businesses, share sensitive information online and protect their login credentials. You can make policies to have your contact center agents remind the customers to communicate using official channels.
Build a culture of data security and privacy in the minds of your customers and your employees.
5. Regulate employee access and modifications of data
You must create systems to control employee access to customer data on a need-to-know basis. Access control systems enable businesses to reduce incidents of unauthorized access and misuse of customer data by employees.
Access control and management systems let you quickly understand who accessed the data and when. You can also understand the modifications made to the data.
These proactive approaches can enhance customer service security and bolster brand trust among customers.
💡 Pro tip: Use AI to identify compliance issues in ongoing interactions and interject in real time. As a customer service lead, your Supervisor Console should empower you to either barge in, whisper, add internal notes or take over the entire conversation whenever you see a potential breach.
6. Create systems to share sensitive data on calls
While your customer service team may not always require a customer’s personal information to solve an issue, it may be essential at other times.
Build systems and guidelines your customer service agent can use to collect these sensitive details. Hackers often use email to prey on vulnerable and unaware customers. Therefore, discourage them from sending sensitive data like credit card numbers, passwords, social security, etc., via email. You must also train your employees not to request personal data unless necessary.
7. Add security as a part of quality and performance
As the drivers of customer support conversations, your customer service agents must build a security-conscious behavior to ensure data security. And adding it as part of your call center quality monitoring and performance assessment can further improve its effectiveness. Most customer service agents would want to keep their performance up. Ensure the changes do not affect their performance negatively.
Building a culture of security must start from within your organization. You must support your team to build a habit of security, as well, by providing all the technology and education they need.
8. Build security into your customer service systems
Relying on your customer service agents to manually follow the guidelines and protocols may not work in all scenarios. And it may not also be the right approach to security in the long term. Hence, you must build processes that let the agents follow the established guidelines.
You can rely on AI-powered process suggestions and knowledge base to ensure better customer data security during customer calls. Sprinklr offers AI-powered Agent Assist that comes with pre-built workflows that give response recommendations based on similar cases.
Your customer service platform must support your service executives to deliver a better customer service experience and ensure data safety.
9. Share instances of security breach with your team
You don’t want your customer service agents to think your data security is impenetrable, even if that’s the case. Hence, when any security concerns happen, communicate them to the teams.
Explain what the reason for the breach was, what the challenges were and what everyone must do to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Including your team in the process enables you to create a sense of togetherness and commitment. This motivates your teams to be proactive in ensuring customer service security and results in overall contact center agent productivity.
It also prepares your teams to be more accepting of the process and procedural changes you make to improve the overall business security.
Monitor these risks to avoid security failures
Security failures can happen at any time. But if you can monitor certain common risks, like data breaches, social engineering attacks, etc., and have systems in place to address such failures quickly, you can avoid them from happening at all.
Here are the most common risks you must monitor to avoid security breaches.
Social engineering attacks
Phishing and impersonation are the most prevalent means that attackers use to grab sensitive information from customer support agents.
They may use phone calls, deceptive emails, etc., to trick customer service executives into sharing customer information. Attackers might also impersonate customers or business employees to access secure details.
The best way to protect your business from such attacks is to have thorough email filtering systems and technologies.
Having customer self-service options is also a great way to eliminate the risks altogether.
You also need to conduct regular employee training programs and encourage employees to never open unwanted emails.
Establish multiple levels of verification to access secure customer information like credit cards, login details, etc.
Data breaches can happen for various reasons, like sharing information over unsecured channels. Customers may share sensitive information via customer service channels like emails, social media and even phone calls. Data breaches can also happen due to insufficient encryption or access control of customer information.
The only way to address data breaches is to create adequate processes that prevent customers from sharing information over unsecured channels. Having secure apps or phone calls can help you address this issue effectively.
Another option to prevent unauthorized access to customer information is to build highly secure storage systems. Implementing additional layers of protection and access control procedures can further help you.
Customer service security must be a priority for your business. Facing data breaches and theft does not look good on your P&L as you’d need to shell out to mitigate reputation damage, implement crisis plans, etc. You can safeguard yourself from security threats by complying with local and federal regulations and by only using a customer service solution with a solid trust center.
As the first pick for many big leagues, Sprinklr Service employs an enterprise-grade security net that renders data protection and privacy to millions of people all over the world. Take a free trial to see what that looks like.
Frequently Asked Questions
Employee training equips your team with knowledge and skills to adhere to customer service security protocols effectively — reducing the risk of a data breach. It involves training on handling sensitive information and acquainting them with various compliance regulations.