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In data we trust: Building customer confidence in a digital economy

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By Richard Menear, CEO, Burning Tree

In the modern, digital world, online shopping is becoming the norm within the retail market. Accelerated by the pandemic, the UK’s proportion of online retail sales soared to the highest on record, reaching 35.2% in January 2021. And with digitisation continuing to evolve the online shopping experience, it is unlikely that we will see a shift back to pre-pandemic norms anytime soon.

So, what does this mean for business-customer relationships in the digital era? Without the experience of in-person shopping, online user experience has a strong influence over consumers’ buying decisions. As a result, brands must define their reputation as trustworthy and reputable providers by shaping their processes around customers’ online behaviours.

‘Digital trust’ is defined as the confidence users have in the ability of processes, people and technology to create a secure digital world, dividing the dependable services from the corrupt ones.

In a world where most people understand that not every online service is legitimate, establishing digital trust helps users decide which companies will keep their personal information safe. So, how can businesses gain the trust of their digital customers — and what will happen if they do not?

Why should businesses build digital trust?

When people make a purchase or interact with an online retailer, they demonstrate their digital trust in that business. However, the quality of the service is no longer defined by how an interface looks or how easy it is to navigate.

Customer expectations have evolved with digitisation. Driven by rapid device proliferation and improved internet connectivity, the modern online shopper expects to encounter seamless digital processes from sign-in to purchase — particularly since the pandemic, which increased the number of people using online services regularly.

Today, customers are more aware of how their data is being used and stored and base their shopping behaviours on a provider’s ability to ensure security. The Okta Digital Trust Index (2021), which surveyed 13,000 office workers, found that 88% of people in the UK were unlikely to purchase from a brand they did not trust. And according to a recent report on the 20 most-trusted UK retailers, 58% of consumers are highly conscious about their safety when shopping online, citing identity theft as a significant concern.

Plus, with most businesses working online in some capacity, the government is introducing more regulations for using technology to use and manage digital identities. A new digital ‘trust framework‘ was announced earlier this year to make sharing digital identities between users easier and safer, allowing more control over what personal information is available to different services and organisations.

There are several ways businesses can generate a loyal digital customer base — from generating positive customer reviews to providing excellent customer service. But when it comes to digital trust, three main factors make people in the UK more likely to trust a brand: its service reliability, good security policies and quick response times — all of which can be facilitated by successful digital transformation.

Building digital trust with digital transformation

Cyber security is an essential consideration for organisations undergoing digital transformation, which involves implementing technology to automate processes, encourage a more cyber-aware business culture, increase security and refine the user experience. As such, retailers must ensure data is protected from a cyber breach to remain compliant and secure digital customers — and keep them coming back.

According to Okta’s survey, 47% of UK people permanently stopped using a firm’s services after hearing of a data breach. As such, IT professionals are harnessing advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning to support existing traditional threat models and automate risk management to reduce the overall probability of falling victim to a cyber attack.

Many organisations are also taking a ‘zero-trust’ approach to cyber security, which means that no activity within a network is trusted straight away. Every device, service, application or user connected by a network must go through a robust identity and access management process to gain a least privileged level of trust and associated access entitlements. As such, implementing a zero-trust framework helps bolster cyber security and minimises the likelihood of a breach.

Effective customer identity and access management (CIAM) solutions will also enable organisations to capture and interpret customer profile data to inform customised user experiences whilst controlling secure access to services and applications. A robust CIAM solution may involve implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), self-service account management and single sign-on (SSO) to minimise friction, increase engagement and develop trust in business processes over time.

Ransomware protection: Back up, don’t pay up  

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By Pritesh Parekh, Chief Trust & Security Officer, VP of Engineering at Delphix  

It’s hard to ignore the recent spate of ransomware attacks. For businesses all over the world, the problem is only getting bigger. It’s also getting more costly, with many feeling as if they have no choice but to pay up.   

When ransomware shut down the Colonial Pipeline in the US earlier this year, the company paid the $5 million requested just one day after the attack. Meanwhile, JBS – the world’s largest meat processor – paid $11 million after it was hit. In many cases, giving in to cybercriminals and their demands is understandable. Even if an organisation has a backup available, often the associated data loss and wider disruption caused by long restore times are more costly than just paying up. Moreover, sometimes cybercriminals will not only encrypt data but target the backups themselves, leaving organisations with no other option.     

But complying doesn’t always lead to a positive outcome. In fact, recent research found that only 8% of organisations receive all their data back after paying a ransom. On average hackers restore only 65% of encrypted data, leaving their victims significantly worse off. In addition, there’s no knowing what the ransom paid is funding. It could even be another attack, meaning that businesses are just kicking the can further down the road.     

In an ideal world, paying the ransom shouldn’t even be a consideration. Businesses should be able to confidently restore data from trusted backup solutions within minutes of being attacked. But in order to do this, they need a fresh approach to backup.  

The issue with traditional backups  

For many years, backup solutions have been the go-to protection against ransomware. However, the perpetrators have grown wise to this approach and, as a result, modern attacks often target backup files as well. This poses a huge problem because backup files are often written and read by the same operating system the business uses for its day-to-day activities. This means the integrity of the backup system depends on how secure the business’s operating system is. If ransomware attackers can hack a system severely enough to encrypt its production data, then the compromised system also puts the backups at risk.  

The other issue with legacy backups is the recency of their data. Most will only backup once a day but, in order to be as effective as possible, modern solutions need to provide same-day detection, response and correction, whilst tackling a wide variety of threat vectors. Once a day backups leave a whole day’s worth of transactions unprotected. In the digital economy, losing such an enormous amount of data can be detrimental to a business, even putting it at risk of liabilities.     

The time taken to restore the data is also critical. With traditional systems, the whole process can be time and labour intensive, with multiple admins needed to restore the data in a new location, then connect and open a database application. It can often take several hours to days and disrupt business which is simply unacceptable.  

The future of ransomware protection  

As cybercriminals become increasingly sophisticated in their methods, it’s unsurprising that legacy backup solutions are no longer enough to combat them. With technology continuing to advance, businesses need to adopt a more modern strategy – which incorporates “air gaps” and data virtualisation – if they are to effectively protect their data and avoid paying the ransom.  

Firstly, it’s important to isolate the backup network and remove any system-level access to it, creating an “air gap” between the two systems. Doing this will successfully prevent hackers who manage to access production data from reaching the backup files. This “air-gapped” backup system can be thought of as a separate, virtual device that can read and write to the system with the right login credentials. These credentials must be completely independent of the credentials expected by the main system and kept behind locked doors, mostly as read-only data to further strengthen their protection.  

Meanwhile, having a virtualised copy of valuable data means that the backups can be restored in minutes, avoiding any significant downtime. What’s more, the data can also be backed up more frequently or even in real-time, minimising data loss to the business.  

When it comes to ransomware, businesses need to snap out of the “pay up or lose data and time” mindset. Ditching legacy backups will help with this. It’s never been more important for organisations to update and modernise their ransomware strategy and focusing on quick and effective recovery is a great place to start.

Consumers blame banks, retailers and social media for ‘scamdemic’

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Consumers think banks, retailers and mobile operators need to do more to protect them and their personal information from fraudsters.

That’s according to research conducted by Callsign, which says trust in these organisations is eroding fast because consumers say they are drowning in scam messages from fraudsters spoofing brand names daily.

The problem has become so pervasive that consumers don’t trust the technology, processes designed to protect them from fraudsters, and confirm identities with many adamant that users must prove beyond doubt who they are when logging in to use a platform, and that there should be an online identity system to quell the surge of scams.

Stuart Dobbie, SVP, Innovation at Callsign, said: “Our data demonstrates that consumer trust in our digital world has vanished and – rightly or wrongly brands – are being blamed. Yet the sense is that little is being actually done to purposely re-establish digital trust through complete and accurate digital identities.”

The survey of global consumers revealed that over a third (35%) of UK consumers say their trust in businesses such as banks, retailers, mobile network operators and delivery companies, has decreased due to persistent scams spoofing brand names. With UK consumers (44%) asking mobile network operators to do more to stop scammers using their platforms, and over a third (37%) asking the same of banks.

People claim to have received scams through email (76%), SMS (66%), phone (58%), messaging apps (15%) and social media (12%) in the last year. But two fifths (40%) of UK consumers don’t know where or who to report a scam message to, or simply get too many to bother (36%). Almost two thirds (60%) of UK consumers don’t trust organisations to keep their data safe; 44% of UK scam victims react with suspicion wanting to know where fraudsters got their details.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumers are calling on businesses to do more to keep them safe and when it comes to stopping fraud and scammers, consumers know what action they want organisations to take. More than a third (38%) of UK consumers think users should have to prove who they are when logging into a platform.

Dobbie added: “With consumers feeling the brunt of perceived inaction by organisations, it’s no surprise that they are asking for more protection. If we continue to be unable to know and trust that the person is who they say they are online, large parts of our society will stop working. Digital Trust is about the confidence we have in the technology, processes and people to secure our digital world. Digital Trust is underpinned by digital identities, and the fact that scams are running wild proves that our digital identities are well and truly broken.”

Students encouraged to consider a career working with data

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Misperceptions about qualification and skill requirements are hindering UK students from pursuing a career working with data, a new study from Experian has revealed.

The research, which surveyed 2,001 UK adults (16+) in education, found over two thirds of students (68%) believe you require key qualifications in maths and / or science in order to work with data. Almost three quarters (72%) also believe that you need specific data skills in order to apply for a data related job.

However, despite the misperceptions, the research also highlighted that over half (53%) are considering a career working with data, including data analysis (29%), data science (21%) and data engineering roles (16%). Men are considerably more likely to consider a career in a data-related field, with 60% doing so compared to 48% of women.

The study follows on from a recent report published by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) which highlighted the UK faces a data skills shortage, with up to 234,000 job roles requiring data skills currently vacant. A lack of talent in the field would severely dent the Government’s ambition for the UK to become a world leader in data, as outlined in the National Data Strategy, so it’s encouraging that Experian’s research shows a healthy appetite from students.

Jonathan Westley, Chief Data Officer for Experian UK&I and EMEA, comments: “The pandemic has shown the growing importance of data and the role it can play in overcoming some of societies biggest challenges. The National Data Strategy is testament to this view, but achieving the Government’s ambitions will continue to be an uphill struggle if there’s not enough talent working in the data industry.

“While it’s encouraging to see that a growing number of graduates and apprentices are now considering a career in data, we need to do more by working alongside the Government to educate and create awareness around data roles with a broader, more diverse range of students. Those in education today are increasingly being driven by the idea of finding a career in which they can make a real difference, and we need to showcase the power of data for good in sectors from healthcare to education.”

Experian is calling on businesses and government to work together to entice more students from a wide range of backgrounds into careers working with data. And the demand is there – the research found that one in five students (21%) said that businesses needed to showcase how people can make a difference to society by pursuing a career in data, and one in four (25%) thought that a renewed focus on data skills and training was needed in the education system.

With 67% of students wanting companies to do more to promote data roles, Experian believes businesses have an opportunity to raise awareness to the importance of data and its crucial role.

80% of global organisations expect breaches of customer records

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Trend Micro and the Ponemon Institute have revealed the findings of a study which discovered that 86% of global organisations expect to suffer a cyber attack in the next 12 months.

The findings come from Trend Micro’s biannual Cyber Risk Index (CRI) report, which measures the gap between respondents’ cybersecurity preparedness versus their likelihood of being attacked. In the first half of 2021 the CRI surveyed more than 3,600 businesses of all sizes and industries across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

The CRI is based on a numerical scale of -10 to 10, with -10 representing the highest level of risk. The current global index stands at -0.42, a slight increase on last year which indicates an “elevated” risk.

Organizations ranked the top three negative consequences of an attack as customer churn, lost IP and critical infrastructure damage/disruption.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 86% said it was somewhat to very likely that they’d suffer serious cyber-attacks in the next 12 months, compared to 83% last time
  • 24% suffered 7+ cyber attacks that infiltrated networks/systems, versus 23% in the previous report.
  • 21% had 7+ breaches of information assets, versus 19% in the previous report.
  • 20% of respondents said they’d suffered 7+ breaches of customer data over the past year, up from 17% in the last report.

“Once again we’ve found plenty to keep CISOs awake at night, from operational and infrastructure risks to data protection, threat activity and human-shaped challenges,” said Jon Clay, vice president of threat intelligence for Trend Micro. “To lower cyber risk, organizations must be better prepared by going back to basics, identifying the critical data most at risk, focusing on the threats that matter most to their business, and delivering multi-layered protection from comprehensive, connected platforms.”

“Trend Micro’s CRI continues to be a helpful tool to help companies better understand their cyber risk,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, CEO for the Ponemon Institute. “Businesses globally can use this resource to prioritize their security strategy and focus their resources to best manage their cyber risk. This type of resource is increasingly useful as harmful security incidents continue to be a challenge for businesses of all sizes and industries.”

Among the top two infrastructure risks was cloud computing. Global organizations gave it a 6.77, ranking it as an elevated risk on the index’s 10-point scale. Many respondents admitted they spend “considerable resources” managing third party risks like cloud providers.

The top cyber risks highlighted in the report were as follows:

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing and social engineering
  • Fileless attack
  • Botnets

The top security risks to infrastructure remain the same as last year, and include organizational misalignment and complexity, as well as cloud computing infrastructure and providers. In addition, respondents identified customerturnover, lost intellectual property and disruption or damages to critical infrastructure as key operational risks for organizations globally.

The main challenges for cybersecurity preparedness include limitations for security leaders who lack the authority and resources to achieve a strong security posture, as well as organizations struggling to enable security technologies that are sufficient to protect their data assets and IT infrastructure.

Cyber Security: Data ‘re’-assurance in the age of GDPR

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How do organisations know their data is secure? And how can companies ensure that a network breach won’t result in a loss of sensitive data? The consequences of a data breach are potentially disastrous for any organisation, so companies need to be reassured that their data is secure at all times in line with any internal and external compliance needs – and that they have the tools and visibility to prove this, should a network breach occur.

With 78% of IT security leaders lacking confidence in their company’s cybersecurity posture, now is the time for organisations to focus on applying a ‘Zero Trust’ approach to their cybersecurity strategy. In doing so, security professionals acknowledge that they cannot trust the security of their underlying infrastructure and therefore implement controls from a data assurance perspective, placing emphasis on protecting their sensitive data, irrespective of where this data travels within the network. And for those CISO’s and CSO’s who are solely concerned with their network security, they need to reconsider and focus on their data security.

Security professionals should be taking a proactive approach to their organisation’s cybersecurity and should always be considering how they can better protect their most valuable asset – their data. With this in mind, Paul German, CEO, Certes Networks, outlines how data assurance is a mindset that security professionals need to adopt in order to be confident that their sensitive data is protected at all times…

Increasing Threats

Cyber attacks are increasing dramatically and by its very nature, sensitive data is an incredibly valuable asset and one that is frequently targeted. Last year, 37 billiondata records were leaked at a staggering 140% increase year on year. Surely there are measures that companies can take to prevent this growing breach of data.

However, on average only 5% of company files are properly protected – a surprising statistic considering the vast implications of a cyber attack. Furthermore, malicious hackers are now attacking computers, networks and applications at a rate of one attack every 39 seconds.

Clearly, cyber attacks and consequent data breaches are an epidemic and organisations need to put the appropriate measures in place in order to protect their data and their business. Ultimately, companies need to adopt a data assurance strategy aligned to business intent so they have the right tools and security posture in order to be in the best position when it comes to safeguarding their most valuable asset against cyber criminals.

The Consequences

When a cyber attack occurs and an organisation loses the sensitive data they have been trusted with, there are significant consequences. Of course, the obvious economic repercussions are enough to make any business concerned, with the average cost of a data breach being $3.86 million as of 2020.

However, it is not just a data breach, but a breach of trust. Additionally, losing a client’s sensitive data damages a company’s reputation and organisations could even be facing legal action, especially if they breach regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA or CJIS. The fact is that businesses are fined for a loss of data because they are not compliant with specific laws over the use of sensitive information – not for a network breach.

By looking at cybersecurity from a data assurance perspective, security professionals have the capacity to bypass these damages by protecting their data from the outset, rather than waiting for an inevitable breach to happen before implementing data security measures. There is no reason for businesses to put themselves in a vulnerable position when they have the ability to effectively avoid the consequences of a data breach altogether.

Data Assurance

When businesses consider their cybersecurity strategy from a data assurance perspective, they are directly focusing on their data security and ensuring that they have the necessary outputs in place in order to prove at all times that their sensitive data is protected according to their business intent.

Through understanding their business intent, organisations adhere to specific objectives that they have defined in order to protect their data and mitigate associated risks. By adopting a Zero Trust approach to their cybersecurity posture, companies can achieve the separation of duties that cannot be met when security protocols are tied into the network infrastructure. With a secure overlay that is agnostic to the underlying network infrastructure, security teams can have total control of their security posture. This means that should an incident occur, the required controls are in place and functioning and security professionals can easily prove that their main priority, which is their sensitive data, is safe.

Additionally, with regulations over how organisations can handle data continuing to evolve and change, companies need the mechanisms in place to be able to proactively react to any developments in regulatory compliance requirements. By implementing policies that match evolving compliance requirements and by putting data at the forefront of any cybersecurity strategy, organisations can be secure in the knowledge they are observing these rules and regulations and won’t fall victim to their data being compromised.

Companies need to seriously consider implementing the right controls in order to make sure their data is protected and by focusing on their cyber security strategy from a data assurance perspective, they can ensure that they are emphasising the protection of their most valuable asset.

Tell us about your contact centre systems; are they disparate or seamlessly integrated? 

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By Seth Millis, Aspect

By some estimates, 91% of IT staff time is spent on software maintenance. This doesn’t leave very much time for innovation. Over time, systems that (at the time) would never need to communicate, suddenly find themselves reliant upon each other. While originally specialisation and customisation may have driven software architecture, integration is rapidly becoming the primary feature of any system worthwhile.

Systems designed to communicate effectively with each other seamlessly are easy to use, cut training time, and typically lead your company down the scalability path; but they come at a cost. Disparate systems are highly specialised and are created around the needs of the organization, not the other way around. Often proprietary, these innovative databases help you achieve specific goals that no other company can achieve. Regardless of your choice of system, there are a couple of considerations no matter what architecture you prefer.

System Upgrades – All systems require scheduled maintenance, costly upgrades, emergency triage, constant training, and a staff with highly specialised knowledge. 

Third Party Compatibility – Good partnerships require compromise and a little bit of conformity. Connecting with new teams, consultants, and partners efficiently means that eventually, your systems will have to interface with theirs.

Management – Whether managing a plethora of systems of just a few (nobody manages just one!) You need the right people and the right budget. Keeping multiple systems running requires patience, knowledge, logistics, vision, and a little luck.

Ultimately, whether using disparate or integrated systems, what really matters is how your data is handled. Your choice of system doesn’t really matter if you can’t perform data exchanges, automation, workflows, while ensuring access and security.

What systems or services do you have in place to access your data remotely?

Even before 2020 centres were making the transition from on-premise software to cloud communication systems. The immediate advantages of remote access right now are obvious. But what systems do you have in place to access your data remotely? What services and features are helping your company function as efficiently as possible?

Cloud Subscription – It’s never been clearer that a system should facilitate a company’s data needs in real time. Unplanned or emergency updates are disruptive and potentially disastrous. But a well-designed system provides your business with greater flexibility and agility, meaning deployments can be completed in a much shorter timeframe, at non-peak hours, and with less staff.

Streamlined User Experience – Customisation is what makes your agents, team leads, and administrators stand out.  Remote solutions should tailor access experience to display the information employees need at the right time through custom widgets and dashboards, and by focusing on the needs of the business and moving unnecessary features to the background.

High Availability A highly dependable remote platform is the most important of your business needs. When you need the ability to access data quickly to changing demand, that makes your business tremendously agile and competitive. You simply cannot compromise when it comes to ensuring uptime and functionality.

Omnichannel Integration – One of the greatest benefits of the cloud is that it facilitates omnichannel service integration. More than ever, channels and data need to be available according to customer preferences. You’ve got to be able to meet your customers where they want. A system must deliver cohesive self-service and agent-assisted data across all channels, including voice, text, social and mobile Web apps. Organisations that provide a consistent and seamless cross-channel experience when customers engage, inquire and request service are poised and prepared to cover all their bases.

How do you approach disaster and business continuity planning, and how do you ensure that contact centre staff can access the technology they need to maintain critical operations in the event of a disaster or outage?

Contact centres around the world are on the front-line of servicing their customers and addressing their concerns at this unprecedented time. Organisations are faced with unforeseen challenges and interacting with customers has never been more important. When designing disaster recovery and business continuity plans, it’s also important to consider the impact of lesser events such as power or internet outages.

The first step of preparing the contact centre for a disaster or outage is to ensure that its technology can be accessed in these circumstances.

Holding regular training sessions with agents to prepare for an outage helps organizations transition to working remotely more easily. Agents need to be familiar with how to access and download software, connect to an environment or VPNs, and what changes in procedures to expect. Staff should also be aware of any resources to help assist them transition, such as how-to guides and training videos.

In the event of an outage or disaster, adjustments to escalation rules may be necessary. If there is a surge in demand for front-level supervisors and managers that cannot be accommodated, it may make sense to create a dedicated escalation queue. This will allow management to continue to focus on their core responsibilities when they are needed most.

The best advice when thinking about an emergency preparedness strategy is to Be Proactive. One of the most effective ways to reduce surge, volume, anxiety, and to minimise mistakes is to anticipate the needs of customers and proactively communicate with them by sending guidance, notifications, or instructions on how to use self-service through their channels of choice.

It’s also important to remember purpose. During an outage remaining proactive also means that companies should strive to preserve critical contact centre functionality in order to:

  • Maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Retain at-risk customers and prevent negative customer experiences
  • Support customers when they need it most
  • Maintain revenue sources, which may be even more critical during a disaster
  • Continue accounts receivables / cash collections flow

Having an end-to-end disaster triage, recovery, and continuity strategy to communicate and implement is critically essential for companies as we continue to navigate collections in 2020 and beyond.

How important is security to your organisation?

A solid foundation for a secure, private, and scalable cloud environment is always good systems architecture. This enables shared services to support multiple customers simultaneously across regions and around the world. Your security solution must also centralise control, enabling you to simply and easily manage on-site staff you have, as well as off-site agents at the highest level of security.

As we’ve seen, the shift to remote work requires additional considerations and planning. In the event of emergencies, temporarily establishing additional security protocols and creating rules about what information can be printed are necessary to keep sensitive information safe. This helps organisations keep sensitive information including customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data secure at a time of heightened sensitivity and scrutiny. Organisational security means safeguarding your business, your data, your customers’ data, and your employees.

Do your policies and procedures reflect this distinction? Blanket policies may offer a general guideline, but as we’ve seen in 2020, very specific and unforeseen circumstances can and will arise. Are your policies and security rules designed accordingly? Do your written policies and procedures match your systems and security rules?

How does a potential shift to cloud change your expectations regarding your access to your data? How does this impact your future plans regarding management of your data?

In the last 6 months digitisation and cloud-based access has taken centre stage. The volume of data and immediate need for remote access forced even the most traditional collections call centres to rethink and revamp their strategies.

While the unexpected and inevitable downtime and latency many businesses experienced forced a temporary reliance on inbound marketing and proactive customer channels; it also forced the rapid deployment of cloud-based data transactions —such as robocalls, SMS, messaging apps, email, social media, and portals. These cloud-managed channels were designed to be minimally invasive and cohesive in messaging—ideal for the unforeseen time/work/life shift that is currently underway.

Because these strategies require minimal administrative overhead and can be managed in the cloud, data disruptions went largely unnoticed for the businesses who were already tracking the shift. For the companies unprepared or ill equipped to handle this major shift in dynamic, however, the results were catastrophic. Collections call centres and companies that were able to retrieve and maintain data quickly have recently reported major reductions in the number of accounts that require escalation or attention.

Proactive cloud data management can also be a gateway to improve customer experience. This deeper, more customised experience in turn, can lead to better call centre collection rates by maintaining a consistent message and driving interaction for customers.  Ensuring seamless consistency in messaging and support for high-value customers is the lynchpin of a successful growth strategy.

When your operations require shifting to the cloud, nothing should be compromised. Aspect has proactive solutions powerful enough to remain versatile and deliver your data when you need it.

Ready to learn more? Contact us to schedule a demo and talk about your needs.

Fast call centre analytics ‘vital’ in the new WFH normal

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The immediate provision of accurate speech analytics is becoming increasingly vital as contact centres increasingly look to maintain work from home (WFH) operational models.

That’s the view of leading call centre solution provider Avoira, which is anticipating heightened interest in the technology from delegates attending the virtual Contact Centre & Customer Service Summit.

The company reports managers are finding that the interactive nature of a sophisticated real-time analytics solution not only enables more effective call outcomes, but enhances employee engagement.

Speaking ahead of the Summit, Steve Watts, Avoira’s head of sales, said: “With team leaders and managers having lost the Captain’s Chair view of what’s happening minute-to-minute,  real-time analytics are even more important and compelling.

“As a result contact centre directors and heads of innovation are now taking a closer look at the sophisticated tools they might deploy to ensure productivity and service standards are maintained as the novelty of homeworking wears off.”

He adds that capturing real-time traffic not just within a centralised centre but across a remote working network, remains a challenge for all but the most potent speech analytic solutions.

As such Watts is expecting heightened interest at the Summit in the AI powered voice analytics solution which Avoira is set to showcase.

The cloud-based Xdroid solution is a rarity – arguably unique – in delivering real-time analytics of both voice and text communications. It automatically records and analyses all calls and monitors customer experience, compliance and the performance of individual agents, wherever they are working.

The powerful solution can detect and range of emotions, reporting on whether customers are displaying displeasure, uncertainty, disappointment or happiness. Based on analysis of dialogue, it provides on-screen prompts which can steer an agent to engage in specific actions – such as up-selling or making a compensatory gesture – at the time most likely to yield a positive response.

A formidable customer service tool, the technology claims to deliver an increased client retention rate of 30% and an inbound sales uplift of 14%.

It can also increase agent retention and reduce breaches which can result in legal or regulatory actions.

“It’s not just regulatory and legal compliance with which our solution can assist, but in ensuring employees, wherever they are, continue to subscribe to and share the organisation’s ethos,” says Watts. “By providing tools with which to help an agents job be performed more easily and effectively, it also helps them feel valued.”

Banking on security: Keeping customer data secure in financial services

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Simon Hill, Legal & Compliance, Certes Networks

The protection of sensitive data in line with regulations, both for banks and other financial services organisations, is currently a big challenge.

The way these organisations operate has changed dramatically in recent years, due mostly to the fact that financial institutions are not only heavily regulated by data privacy requirements, but they are also under mounting pressure to be open to consumers and businesses about how they are protecting their data from potential breaches.

The increasing expectations of consumers means that banks and financial institutions are trying to achieve a balancing act: how can they protect data privacy, while at the same time remaining transparent about how data is being protected?

However, it doesn’t have to be a play-off between meeting these customer expectations and meeting cyber security and compliance requirements: banks and financial services organisations can utilise technology to the fullest extent while still protecting data. 

The balancing act 

To achieve this balance, banks and financial services organisations need to take control of their security posture and assume the entire network is vulnerable to the possibility of a cyber-attack. Robust encryption and controlled security policies should be a central part of an organisation’s cyber security strategy.

Through generating and defining policies, network policy enforcement allows organisations to ensure that only authorised applications and users are communicating with one another, while enabling them to meet their own governance, security and compliance requirements. 

Rather than waiting for a cyber-attack to happen, new technology tools are now available to gain a deeper understanding of policy deployment and analyse every application that tries to communicate across the network, all the while monitoring all traffic and limiting the pathways potential threats can travel. 


Banks and financial services organisations should not have to worry about keeping data secure and protected. Adopting new ways of thinking about how these organisations can strengthen the protection of data requires well-defined policies, strict key assignments and authorisation of who sends and receives data.

But, most importantly, the ability to enforce policies to better monitor and observe applications and suspicious activity on the network will require sophisticated technology and tools that are currently available today. 

AI key to customer service, but performance overrated

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Sixty-three per cent of contact centre leaders agree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved.

That’s according to findings of the second annual NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark, a global research study that gauges the changing attitudes of both industry professionals and consumers.

NICE inContact polled contact centre leaders in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The report compares global findings to the 2018 consumer wave of the study, and includes year-over-year findings for the US.

NICE inContact says results reveal that businesses are confident in artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) role in delivering exceptional customer service experiences, but they overrate their own CX performance.

Compared to consumers, businesses overreach when estimating their own net promoter scores (NPS), overrate their own CX success, and underperform when it comes to delivering seamless omnichannel experiences.    

Key findings:

·       Businesses express confidence in AI. The CX Transformation Benchmark found that 63 percent of contact center leaders agree that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved, and 68 percent of those surveyed agree that consumers want to use virtual assistants to interact with them. Findings show that significantly more US businesses now offer automated assistants / chatbots online, at 54 percent compared to 44 percent the prior year.

·       Business overreach in self-assigned Net Promoter Score (NPS). Compared to consumers, businesses give themselves higher net promoter scores for every method of communication tested. Businesses overestimate most channel-specific NPS by broad margins. For example:

o   Automated Assistant / Chatbot: While consumers award automated assistants an NPS of -8, businesses estimate they earn an NPS of 25, for a gap of 33 points.

o   Email: The consumer NPS for email is -9 while the business NPS is 19, for a gap of 28 points.

o   Text: Consumers give text a -2 NPS while businesses estimate 25, for a gap of 27 points.

·       Businesses overrate their CX success. Businesses are 15 percent more likely than consumers to agree that they make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved in their preferred channels, and that they provide a consistent customer service experience across the purchase journey.

·       Businesses understand the value of omnichannel experiences, but underperform. While 93 percent of businesses agree that consumers expect companies to provide a seamless experience when moving between channels, only 24% of businesses globally give themselves an excellent rating on allowing consumers to switch seamlessly between methods of communication.

Paul Jarman, CEO at NICE inContact, said: “We are at an inflection point for AI in the contact center. AI innovations are at their best when paired with the human touch and deployed to address targeted customer and agent experience opportunities. AI in the contact center has the potential to add significant value to customer experience outcomes and operational performance.

“The CX Transformation Benchmark shows contact center leader confidence in AI, and we join them in delivering end-to-end AI capabilities that span the entire customer and agent experience, to empower organizations of all sizes to stay one step ahead of customer expectations.”

NICE inContact surveyed more than 900 contact center decision makers in the US, UK, and Australia. The report presents global findings from the business wave of the research and provides comparative results to the consumer study published in 2018.

For more information and to download the full research report, please click here.

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