Top contact center authentication stories of 2017

Posted on: December 28th, 2017 by Art Barger

Throughout 2017, we’ve discussed many of the top challenges facing contact centers and the authentication industry. As the year comes to a close, let’s recap some of the biggest call center issues and authentication stories we saw in 2017:

  • Massive Equifax data breach For the first six months of 2017, a known security flaw left millions of American’s critical information, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s licenses, exposed to hackers. As a result, a total of 145 million customer accounts were compromised. The full impact of the massive data leak could carry on for years to come. With unchanging personal data in the hands of hackers, identity thieves can potentially use the details to apply for new lines of credit at any time. To protect themselves, consumers need to work with the credit monitoring agency and their bank to closely monitor their credit activity for, what some experts believe, the rest of their lives.
  • Fallout of the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal A year following the banking giant’s bogus accounts scandal, the size and scope of its employee misconduct continued to grow. Updated reports found that the number of fake accounts jumped from 2.1 million to 3.5 million. Still facing lawsuits that could result in additional fines, Wells Fargo has a long road ahead to rebuild trust with its customers. This scandal showed why it is important to authenticate banking activities conducted by customers and employees.
  • Investing in your contact center Nothing is more important to the success of your contact center than the service you provide to your customers. As one of the most relied upon customer channels for financial institutions, your call center must be equipped with effective training, security and customer authentication processes to provide a high level of customer service over the phone channel. This will not happen if banks aren’t committed to investing in solutions that enable them to deliver services that meets growing customer demands. As customer service becomes a top brand differentiator, banks must invest in areas that create a better overall customer experience.
  • Is two-factor authentication enough? — New hacks continue to expose weak points in multifactor authentication, particularly for banks and wireless carriers that are reluctant to go beyond SMS-based texts and knowledge-based methods to identify customers. While experts aren’t saying that two-factor authentication is dead, methods to validate callers should always to be evaluated to strengthen defenses against more sophisticated hackers and the evolving technologies they use to attack call centers and other customer environments.
  • The power of call center metrics — Customer behavior can teach us a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of our enterprise. Measuring things like average call times, wait times, miss calls, call routing and transfers, queue abandonment and how long it takes to answer the phone can provide vital information that contact centers can use to work more efficiently, improve customer service and save money.
  • Attend to your customers’ needs first — The general rule in any business-customer relationship is the customer’s needs always come first. While profits are a top priority for organizations, they must not override what makes customer channels successful — and that’s meeting the needs of your customers. While upselling customers over the phone may be a common practice, it should not come at the price of your customers. The key is not to lose sight of what’s important to them. Customer service and resolving problems should be the driving force behind customer channels, and only when the opportunity arises, should upselling come into the conversation.
  • Restoring customer trust — Some of the stories above already cover trust. However, earning and maintaining trust can never be overstated. It’s the backbone to any solid professional relationship. When you have it, you still have to continually work to maintain it, which all banks do. When you violate it, the damage can be permanent. Either way, trust in the banking industry should never be assumed or taken lightly.
  • End of the line for password authentication? — The end of password authentication is something we at TRUSTID have known for years. The longer banks continue to rely on what the caller knows, the more vulnerable they are to social engineering. Moving forward, financial institutions need to replace maligned passwords that are no longer effective for customer authentication with more secure technology to comply with new requirements, validate customers more efficiently, and spot bad actors before they speak to an agent.
  • Hidden threat of call centers — As we’ve learned from the Wells Fargo scandal, internal threats can be as significant as external ones. While most banks focus on protecting their enterprise from external threats, they should not overlook internal activities. Making sure authentication process are in place to authorize transactions conducted by customers and call center agents is essential to securing your enterprise and making sure all banking activities are secure.

To mitigate today’s advanced phone threats, it’s important to stay on top of ongoing issues that effect contact center operations. As we move into 2018, we thank you for visiting the TRUSTID blog. We look forward to exploring the important issues facing the authentication industry, and learn what we can do to better protect our customers and secure our banking channels.