“Who am I talking to?”

The relationship between security, verification and customer experience

Customer experience & security

It’s not exactly ground-breaking to say that the customer experience your company offers is crucial to its success. 91% of customers are likely to return after a positive experience. Customer experience can be affected by any and every interaction between an individual and your business. That includes things like visits to your website, purchases they make, or, as this guide explores, the interactions they have with your customer support team.

Arguably, this is the most important point of all since the relationship between customer service and customer experience is inherently linked. Customers often only reach your support team when there’s a problem, so providing a good experience can be key to retaining their business or losing them forever.

Customers’ expectations are higher than ever when it comes to the level of service your business provides. Coupled with increasing concern about digital security, support teams are facing a daunting task. How do you provide great, empathetic customer support whilst maintaining robust security procedures?

Read more: How to do a security audit for your business in 10 minutes

 

Sometimes known as “Call Center Fraud”, bad actors contacting customer support with malicious intent (for example, to gain access to payment details or other sensitive information) is nothing new. It’s important for companies to combat this, both to protect their own systems against abuse and to look after their customers’ important data. Companies need to ensure that the person they’re talking to is legitimately who they claim to be, or the outcomes can be disastrous.

Excessive security requirements reduce customer experience

One challenge with this is that support systems are often heavy-handed when it comes to verification. Requiring customers to memorise a string of passwords and supposedly “memorable data” places an unnecessary burden on customers. Let’s face it, making your customers jump through hoops is never going to lead to great customer experience. In fact, challenges recalling verification data have a major impact on customer’s behaviour, impacting businesses’ bottom line.

Going through an extensive verification process before an agent even begins to discuss the issue at hand is extremely frustrating for customers. Not only does it drastically increase the amount of time it takes to resolve the issue, it places extra demands on the customer during what may already be a stressful time. Getting rid of unnecessary friction throughout the process can significantly reduce feelings of frustration and stress for the customer. This in turn increases the likelihood of them finding the interaction rewarding and satisfying.

Customers still have high security expectations

However, the solution to this is not simply to remove all verification requirements entirely. It goes without saying that allowing anyone to access sensitive information simply by calling or emailing your team is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, customers expect the services they deal with to have robust security systems, and failing to reassure your customers that you take their privacy and data protection seriously can reduce their faith in your business. Making it “too easy” for customers to access information is just as big a threat to customer experience as making it too difficult, especially if that information is particularly sensitive such as banking or medical details.

Simple, recognisable digital verification

Many companies are turning to digital verification tools to provide the balance between security and customer experience. Allowing customers to confirm their identity using a trustworthy, unobtrusive tool can significantly reduce the friction of lengthy verification, whilst still enabling both you and your customer to feel that security is a top priority.

Such systems differ when it comes to quality and prevalence, so choosing the right tools is key. Let’s take a practical example. In Sweden, where Telavox’s head office is based, BankID is used near-enough universally. Almost every person in the country uses BankID to confirm their identity when making payments, signing into websites and accessing digital mailboxes. Companies which do business in Sweden often cannot afford to not support BankID, given how frequently it’s used and accepted.

This example may not be representative of other markets, but the principles which make BankID a successful verification tool in Sweden can help guide decision making when you decide how best to verify your customers’ identities. BankID is quick to use, and is widely recognised. This increases customers’ trust and confidence in systems which use it. Any verification methods you use must provide that same intuitive, user-friendly process whilst remaining trustworthy.

How you use digital verification will depend on the system your business chooses. To continue the example of BankID, Telavox provides an integration which allows the tool to be used in one of two ways. It can be used as part of the PBX process, meaning that customers need to verify their identity before being routed to an agent. Or, it can be triggered during an interaction, for example when confirming a change that the customer has requested to their account.

In either case, the process is quick to complete, and the customer understands the logic behind why they are being asked to verify their identity. Deploying verification in an easy and logical way allows for a positive customer experience.

Read more: 4 easy steps for successful business telephony.

Digital security can empower your customers

For a deeper understanding of the relationship between security and customer experience, let’s consider the drive towards self-service. Customers are increasingly demanding good quality, self-service experiences. Customers expect to be able to take most actions themselves in a user-friendly way, rather than needing to engage with your support team. That relates to security in two ways:

 

1. Your customer wants to feel that the platform they use is secure.

That means that they feel empowered to perform actions, adjust their settings or enter information because they trust that the self-service platform is adequately secure. They should never feel that it was “too easy” to access sensitive information. For example, it should not be possible to access payment details without needing to log in to an account.

 

2. Your customer expects that your security demands are proportionate to the actions they are trying to take.

For example, you might decide to allow your customers to view information, or create something new without overly restrictive security procedures. However, you may require additional verification for things like editing or deleting files, or access to more sensitive details.

By considering how best to implement your security procedures tactically, you can use them to enhance, rather than detract from your customer’s experience. The goal is to provide enough security that your customer trusts that your business is handling their information responsibly, without slowing down their work unnecessarily.

Balancing verification and privacy

One consideration when planning your security processes is how you balance privacy concerns with the need to verify your customers’ identity. This is especially important when it comes to phone support. Your customers may not always want to disclose sensitive information to a support agent. Customers are rightly becoming more wary of sharing “memorable data” or passwords openly.

A good question to ask yourself when planning your security procedures is “How much information does the support agent really need access to in order to do their job?”. You could have a tiered permission system wherein only managers can see the most sensitive information. Or you could use a verification method, like the tools discussed above, to confirm a customer’s identity digitally without them needing to share it with an agent.

Either way, being open and transparent with your customers about how much access your agents have to their data can be a good way to provide a reassuring and positive customer experience.

The human touch is always necessary

Digital security is incredibly valuable and can transform your customer experience, but it’s vital not to disregard the importance of human interaction. Sure, customers might want to be able to self-serve, but that just makes the interactions they do have with your team even more important. If your customers are reaching out to you, it probably means they are unable to solve their problem themselves. In this case, it’s your awesome team that needs to provide the positive experience.

Digital security doesn’t replace common sense. There may be times when you need to deviate from your procedures in order to provide a satisfying (but equally secure) customer experience. For example, it’s important to have back-up plans in case systems fail. If your digital verification tool isn’t available for whatever reason, consider how you can still enable customers to verify themselves safely and easily.

Alternatively, there may be cases where someone who is not the account holder has a legitimate need to access their account, for example if it’s the family member of an account holder that has passed away. A responsible support team should have procedures in place for cases such as these.

The importance of good quality customer service cannot be underestimated. Empowering your agents with the tools they need to provide that service is crucial. Automation and chatbots are a useful tool, but your skilled, empathetic and knowledgeable people separate your company from everybody else. Keeping on top of the trends and changes in customer expectations and providing bespoke solutions for different customers allows you to use the most valuable resources you have – your staff – in the most effective way.

Conclusion

Customers demand security, but don’t want it to get in their way. Balancing ease-of-access with data protection is a challenge, but one your business can overcome with careful planning. Using digital verification tools is one method that can eliminate cumbersome processes and provide your customers with a positive experience. Combining digital solutions with skilled agents is the most effective way to give your customers a secure and satisfying experience every time they interact with you.

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