Omni-channel payment security – buzzwords, real world and evolution

If you’re a contact center operations manager or responsible for IT or telephony, you’ll be used to being bombarded with buzzwords and ‘envisioning’ the contact center of the future.

By now, you’re probably on your way to providing a ‘customer engagement center’, with multiple channels seamlessly integrated for tech-savvy consumers to switch between at will.  Indeed your customers might already be enjoying  the ‘ambient user experience’ pinpointed by Gartner as one of the major technology trends as long ago as 2016  with all your customer touchpoints truly enmeshed and secure payment facilitated via their channel of choice.

But is this yet the real world?

For many organizations, the day to day commercial reality of budget constraints and project overload limit the pace of such change, however desirable, with legacy software and /or premise-based hardware making such shifts slower than we or our customers might like.

Indeed many merchants taking payments in their contact centers are still be using a patchwork of risk mitigation options to reduce the cardholder data environment (CDE) to make phone payments compliant, let alone grappling with payments and PCI DSS via alternative digital channels yet. Even for voice, mitigating controls such as pause and resume/stop start for call recordings, P2PE and clean rooming are still in use for phone payment compliance, with DTMF masking still the ‘new kid on the block’ as a more comprehensive solution, per the  PCI SSC guidance of 2018 which suggests considering ‘eliminating the CDE altogether’ to protect telephone-based payment card data.

So it may be of some comfort that whilst contact centers have been adopting  digital channels such as e-mail and web chat for a long time now (and more recently video, social media and chatbots), the phone still remains the most prevalent customer channel, with Deloitte’s global survey in 2017 putting telephony at 64% of all customer interactions, with e-mail at 16% and webchat a distant third at 6% (and all other channels well below that).

But whilst Contact Babel’s 2019-2023 report broadly agrees with these quite low levels of alternative channel uptake, it did predict that chat will overtake the phone by 2023, with 1 in 4 organizations looking to implement chat within a year.

So whilst you may not have thought yet about how payment might be made via these alternative channels once they are adopted in your contact centers, it’s probably best to address this  alongside the implementation of them as and when you do, to ensure you maintain consistent service levels across them.

Syntec offered a solution to this emerging challenge over five years ago, with little interest then from merchants. But if digital channel penetration is about to take off as predicted (and as we are hearing from multiple merchants ourselves now), then whether they are used in silos in a multi-channel contact center or integrated for a more omni-channel customer experience, you will most likely be feeling the pressure to facilitate payment by at least some digital contact center channels sometime soon.

Payment services providers have also been providing some payment facilities for services such as e-mail, but it’s only now that one-stop-shop solutions are beginning to appear for payments via digital channels as well as voice.  CardEasy Digital is one of the very few services able to support this digital evolution in contact centers, with a full suite of secure omni-channel payment solutions complementing CardEasy Voice Channel payments.

Contact center agents can now generate single-use secure payment links or QR codes from which customers can open a secure payment page to pay by card, for instance on their smartphone. The links are sent via whichever digital channel the customer is using, including for payments in e-mail correspondence; SMS payments; payments using webchat; payment whilst connected on video, Whatsapp or other messaging services such as Facebook Messenger; payment on social media and payment using chatbots.

CardEasy is also agnostic to which telephony and other channel service providers you use.  And as with all CardEasy solutions, the payment card numbers are not seen by the agent and bypass your contact contact center environment via CardEasy to your payment services provider for authorization, thus providing PCI compliance and re-assurance right across your contact center operations.

So whether you have a call center providing services primarily by phone, or you’re already at the omni-channel contact center stage, or somewhere in between, it’s perhaps reassuring that at least for payment security and compliance, there’s a service provider that can provide an integrated suite of payment solutions across all these channels, to roll out progressively and help future- proof your contact center service for customers.  This will both enhance their experience (for instance by not having to switch to another channel in mid-transaction to pay) and also improve your bottom line by continuing to make payment as frictionless as possible.

So in this aspect of contact center infrastructure at least, real life may not turn out to be quite as complicated as the ‘visionaries’ sometimes like to make out.

If you’d like to speak to us about how Syntec’s CardEasy Digital and CardEasy Voice Channel payment services may help you with your contact center evolution please get in touch.

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