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Anna Papachristos | March 6, 2013

Putting Trust at the Heart of National Consumer Protection Week

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fraud47e47.jpgWhen consumers choose to do business with any given company, they do not just invest their hard earned dollars, but their trust, as well. Every time customers share their credit card information or personal identification numbers, they enter into an unspoken agreement--the consumer promises to complete the transaction, possibly coming back in the future, while the company promises to protect this sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

In celebration of National Consumer Protection Week, 1to1 Media spoke with Matthew Storm, director of innovation and solutions at NICE, to explore ways in which companies across industries can protect their customers private information and issues that arise along the way:

1to1 Media: When it comes to consumer protection, what are the biggest obstacles facing companies across industries?

Matthew Storm: [Companies] are striving to protect their customers while at the same time providing excellent customer service. Answering security questions, complicated processes, and additional protection are becoming more commonplace across all industries, yet can have an adverse impact on satisfaction if not handled with care. As companies leverage new technology to protect consumers they should always take into account the customer's perception and look for new ways to communicate well, guide employees, and collect feedback about experiences.

The primary goal for most organizations should be to keep fraudsters away. Fraudsters steal identifies, bring in millions of dollars based on falsification and, while doing so, create havoc for customers. And while much has been done to protect online channels and brick-and-mortar locations, the phone channel has become a primary target for fraudsters.

1to1: What steps can retailers take to ensure their customers personal information remains secure?

MS: Contact centers should continue to monitor and coach their employees to handle interactions in ways that do not put customer information at risk. Examples include writing down account numbers, copy and paste steps that are outside of the bounds of specific applications, personal usage of company resources, and many more. Coaching improves skills, but at the same time call recording provides an excellent way to investigate fraud happening within a contact center.

1to1: How can financial services companies proactively protect their customers from fraud?

MS: Financial services companies should leverage technology to uncover the signs that may not be seen by the employees on their own and guide employees in real time to appropriately handle high-risk interactions. And finally, compliance personnel must implement an end-to-end fraud management solution that prioritizes high-risk interactions for investigation before transactions are authorized. Customers will be more satisfied and employees will be better equipped.

1to1: What obstacles often arise within the contact center that can put customer information in jeopardy?

MS: The most obvious risk is with customer information hidden in social media. Customers should review the resources and videos from the NCPW.org website and ensure that their personal details are secure and they make the best use of their information online. Social media can provide a bounty of information for social engineering fraudsters out there and this information can be used to hurdle barriers designed to protect the consumer--passwords, secret questions, and other knowledge-based authentication.

1to1: What are some essential steps companies across all industries can take to proactively protect their customers?

MS: Many organizations are being much more proactive in their education of their customers. Each industry can be quite unique--handling an insurance claim, choosing a credit card, selecting a mortgage, and even addressing telemarketing. Organizations should work with the organizations that created the NCPW program and distribute this information to ensure their customers are making good buying decisions. Secondly, organizations should be clear with their customers about the complaint process, address these complaints, and comply with regulations that govern their industry. And finally, as the slogan of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) states, Know Before You Owe. Companies should take a proactive stance on detecting fraud, securing customer's information and positioning their products and services. If they do, companies will see happy and loyal customers coming back for more.

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