Call Center Data Protection and Management – Your Business Depends On It In More Ways Than One.

Your data management tools and practices can either protect your organization or put it at risk. They also determine if your data sits idle in a black box or serves as a source of business insights.

Customer-facing organizations in virtually every industry in practically every country –  that interact with consumers in the exchange of goods or services - have become data collectors amassing vast volumes of customer-related information (or, in the case of the healthcare industry, patient-related information). Depending on the nature of the data, organizations are generally required to store customer/patient interaction data anywhere from 2-7 years.

Some of that data might be financial or health-related. Some might be credit card information, a phone number or some other standard identifier (e.g., address, birth date, social security number). If the data is considered private, it’s protected by an alphabet soup of regulations that call centers must comply with or risk substantial financial penalties and/or legal jeopardy. 

HIPAA, PCI DSS, MiFID, GDPR, FCA CDC, SOC, and FedRAMP are some of the most prominent regulatory frameworks developed to protect vulnerable customer classes from predatory practices and prevent private information from being somehow misused or made public. Penalties for non-compliance can run into tens of thousands of dollars per incident, so it’s certainly in the interest of organizations and their contact centers to develop data protection and media management protocols that adhere to applicable regulatory requirements for recording calls and screens and securing data. It’s equally important for an organization seeking to prove its adherence during an audit. 

Because call centers are typically at the front line of customer-related data collection, the challenge of adequately protecting and managing data has risen to the top of every manager’s list of priorities. The goalposts are constantly moving, so staying up to date   - and ensuring compliance with - all applicable requirements is no easy task. You can’t rely on agents and call center supervisors to do the job alone; there’s too much data and room for human error, and the risks are too high. Without technology and automation, call centers will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that must be collected, managed, stored, and safeguarded. 

Must-Have Tools for Data Protection and Management

Your Workforce Optimization (WFO) software provider isn’t legally responsible for your organization’s compliance, but they need to be a trusted partner, ensuring your organization has access to necessary compliance-related data protection and management tools. If you’re evaluating various WFO providers on their ability to help you steer clear of compliance-related issues these tools should be considered ‘table stakes’. 

They include:

  • Media Lifecycle Management – Archives and categorizes datasets while anonymizing, extracting, or deleting personally identifiable information. Provides an audit log for every action within the system and simplifies data search and access when needed for audit examinations or quality management purposes.
  • Omni-Channel Recording – Automatically captures all voice, screen, text, and chat interactions with customers.

  • Auto Pause and Resume – URL and application detection technology automatically records audio and screens during customer interactions, pausing those recordings when confidential or protected information is being shared.

  • Speech Analytics with Transcription – Automatically monitors and transcribes every customer interaction, creating a searchable database of calls and screens.

  • Role or Permission-Based Access Controls – Regulates who can access what data in your contact center’s database.

  • Encryption – Protects access to stored data by translating it into an unreadable coded format called ciphertext. Decryption requires a secret key or password. 

There are also important branding and customer loyalty ramifications to data protection and management. Data protection is a hidden competitive differentiator for organizations because consumer trust is the coin of the realm in today's business environment. Losing that trust could mean losing business. 

Moreover, the data your call center amasses is an asset if managed correctly. It represents a treasure trove of insights into your customers, their habits, and their attitude toward your organization. Robust call center data management can translate into better customer service, higher customer satisfaction, and more productive and efficient business processes. 

A Few Data Protection and Management Best Practices  

Given its importance from both a compliance and business perspective, what are some best practices for managing and protecting your data?

  • Automate data management and, wherever possible, integrate AI into your strategy. AI and machine learning are unmatched in their efficacy when collecting and categorizing massive data volumes – and performing those tasks error-free. 

  • Categorizing all the information collected during a customer interaction is necessary for keeping you in compliance,  your database can be more than just a static repository of raw data. It can be utilized as an organic source of decision-making and market intelligence. One way to maximize the business value of your data is to get creative in leveraging your speech analytics tool and the unprecedented visibility into the quality of customer/interactions that the tool provides. Identify opportunities to improve your customer relationships at the moment of contact. Identify developing trends and agent training opportunities. Proactively address emerging issues.

  • Minimize data availability and access – Use system permissions to manage who can access specific data and mask sensitive data to limit the information displayed to employees.

  • Integrate data across channels – Develop a strategic data governance approach built around a single integrated platform that the management and digital teams can access.

  • Periodically review data to ensure all standards for compliance are present.

  • Develop a data governance strategy specifying who owns and monitors data access, flow, and usage and how data is managed and secured throughout its lifecycle.

Establishing a robust data protection and management strategy takes a lot of work, due diligence, and expertise. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. As mentioned previously, your WFO software provider should not only be able to provide the tools necessary to help you establish that strategy, but they should also be equipped to guide you as you put that strategy into practice.

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