Why businesses need an omni-channel approach to protecting customer data [Q&A]

identity protection

In the retail sector particularly the line between online and offline worlds is increasingly blurred. But how can businesses protect their customer data effectively in this world?

We spoke to, Gary Barnett, CEO of secure payment systems specialist Semafone to discuss this, the effect of the upcoming CCPA legislation and more.

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BN: What has been the effect of shifting buying patterns on retail businesses?

GB: We're seeing folks go online, much more often. The online companies, or even those with bricks and mortar stores that have increased their investment in online, they've figured out how shipping works, they figured out returns, they tried to make it a frictionless process.

No question that those who have not been able to keep up at the speed of internet have really run into financial problems. Who would have ever thought that Sears 20 years ago would be in the condition that they are today?

There are also those that have done pretty well in a hybrid model, they still have their bricks and mortar, but they continue to grow and do well, online. One of the things that those companies have to watch out for is where they areseparated too much and they almost appear to be two companies. We've heard the horror stories of you buying something online but you can't return it to your local store, even though it's the same company. A lot of times calls come into a contact center, it may invoke omni-channel, in fact omni-channel is almost become a necessity for those types of on online retailers so you've got to make it very easy to go to chat or chat bot or exchange information through instant messages or your favorite social media messenger. But it still has to be PCI compliant and you have to be able to protect it and provide a very highly secure environment.

BN: So retailers need to try to make things frictionless across platforms?

GB: I'm a big believer that one of the biggest movers in net promoter score and customer satisfaction and increasing revenue is as simple as making things as frictionless as you can. There's an interesting dynamic between how do you make something secure, and how do you make it frictionless at the same time. Where we can help is to say look we want the transactions to be secure, we want to protect your card data or bank data, personal data whenever, but we don't want that to be so cumbersome and so overburdened that it turns it into a friction process.

A lot of retailers, either online or hybrid, have done a pretty good job of how to keep things, secure, and at the same time, how to make it a very pleasant transaction thanks to solutions like ours and other similar ones in the industry. At the same time those same retailers, know that there's even more risk, you know they're being bombarded even more by hackers and people trying to breach them.

They've got new regulatory standards that they have to meet and so again, how we can help them navigate the regulatory side of things, but at the same time keep it a pleasurable experience for the consumer? It's about having the same experience online as you would have in the field.

BN: What impact will privacy regulations like CCPA coming in next year have?

GB: I think we're going to find other states adopting similar rules very quickly. In fact with other regulations that California has passed, you find that some states wait for California and just simply copy what they do, so I think we're going to see adoption very, very quickly.

I think we're going to see companies spending a lot more investment and time in making sure that they do have compliance and then of course if they do it for California within their contact center or online it'll impact all of their consumers. If you're a retailer that's nationwide, or even global for that matter.

BN: With GDPR it took a while for consumers to become aware of its impact, but once they were companies come under pressure to follow the rules, will the same happen here?

GB: It takes a bit of time for consumers to become aware of these things, certainly when GDPR came in the first thing a lot of people knew about it was when they got a box popping up on your screen to ask permission to use cookies. Ultimately they appreciate the added security or the added notification to them that they previously weren't getting. And I think we're going to see that across more and more channels and as we see these retailers or any businesses going more omni-channel is we're just going to see the same types of things. You just can't be a voice only company anymore because consumers are demanding that these channels be in place.

BN: How important is it to make people aware that they are being protected even if they can't actually see the technology in operation?

GB: If you go back to security and protection and adhering to the regulations it's incredibly important. But it just doesn't have a high wow factor. The one nice thing about digital channels is they have much more of a face to them, but in the voice world it's always hard for us to impress as the technology is almost transparent to the consumer.

Our Cardprotect Relay+ product means companies and consumers can have the same level of protection in omni-channel environments. This gives us even more branding capabilities. We've all been trained now to expect to hear the infamous prompt or announcement that "your call may be monitored for quality assurance", wouldn't it be great if the world adopted a standard where that message also told you your data was being protected? If a website doesn't have the high trust brand I may choose not do business on that site or put my card information in it. If there's something that tells the consumer that this is a protected contact center they may be happier doing business with it.

We still think that the best policy is not to hold the data, because people just can't hack data that you don't hold. You know, we still think that that's the best policy and really something that we continue to promote out there.

Photo Credit: Panchenko Vladimir/Shutterstock

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