Customer Service Security

Customer Service Security: 10 Ways to Improve

It's every business's responsibility to secure customer data and ensure they aren't the target of a malicious attack.
Guest Contributor
7 min read
7 min read

In a Nutshell

Keeping your customers’ data secure is something you should take very seriously. In today’s world, customer service teams just can’t be sure there isn’t a malicious hacker trying to hack their data. When customers are sharing their data with you online, they implicitly expect your business to take care of it. 

Table of Contents

Every customer service agent dreads to hear that their customer accounts have been compromised. With so many customer service departments operating online, the increase of security risks have become a serious problem. Customer service security might be something that your company hasn’t really thought about until now, but you should immediately start giving it your attention. 

Businesses need to be able to confidently say that their customer data is secure. When passwords and other details are at risk, customer trust suffers and the business takes a hit as a result. It’s the job of your customer service agent to identify a security risk and take action to prevent any harm. 

Customer service teams regularly handle, manage and store customer data, so they need to improve their security processes to ensure that their data isn’t attacked. 

Malicious actors are regularly trying to hack customer data and they may use tactics such as social engineering to gain access. Because customer service teams are regularly interacting with clients outside of the organization, this increases their risk of attack. 

It is the responsibility of everyone in your company to maintain customer service and protect their personal data. 

Why customer service teams are at risk of attack

In their admirable haste to deliver excellent customer service, customer service reps may overlook important security protocols. They may be hesitant to ask customers to prove their identity as it prolongs the time it takes to successfully complete a service interaction. 

Since customer service agents are primed to trust customers, they may not recognize the warning signs of a bad actor. Agents aren’t expecting a security attack, so they assume all communications are genuine. 

Attacks can happen to even the most careful customer service team, because hackers are experts at exploiting vulnerabilities. 

When customer service teams have high turnover, inexperienced agents may present an easy target to bad actors. They may be easily tricked into overlooking security protocols or not notice when data is at risk of attack. 

At the end of the day, customer service teams have access to large amounts of personal data including login details, and credit card information. Because they are the online front door to the business, they are a tempting point of attack for malicious hackers. 

See for yourself

Keeping is the fastest, simplest way to manage customer support right inside Gmail.

How to improve customer service security

1. Avoid asking customers to share personal data

Don’t ask customers to share any of their personal data unless it is strictly necessary. If you must ask customers to share their personal data, keep it to the bare minimum. Naturally, the business should also never share any data with customers. This may make customer support more complicated, but it’s a necessary precaution. 

2. Delete any data after it is shared

Don’t store any customer data in email. If they have shared their information, delete it straight away even if this could represent a possible inconvenience to the customer.

3. Automate password resets

Don’t make your customers have to email in when they want to reset their password as this presents a security risk. Invest in software that automates the password reset that asks customers for security information to verify their identity. 

4. Train your team on information security

Train all your team on the importance of information security for your company and make sure they are aware of all legal requirements. Teach them what to do if they suspect an attack and how to keep data secure. 

5. Use authentication protocols

Authentication tries to verify that the customer is who they say they are. Before recently, businesses tended to use single-factor authentication which asked for one item of identifying information, such as a password. Now, businesses are moving towards multi-factor authentication, where users have to enter two pieces of information such as a password and code sent to their mobile device in order to access the system. This makes it harder for hackers to penetrate the system. 

6. Strive for transparency

Always be honest with customers about how and why you need to collect personal data so they can make informed decisions. Tell them about how you store and protect the data, communicating this in a simple format in plain, everyday language. 

7. Develop a security strategy

If you have a plan in place that outlines what to do if an attack occurs, you’re much more likely to respond with speed and effectiveness. This plan should include how to secure data after a breach, and the steps to take to remedy the situation. 

8. Designate a security officer

Hire someone with the skills to review potential security issues and who can take the lead in case an attack does happen. 

9. Encourage agents to follow security protocols

Instead of impressing on agents that the customer is always right, make sure you assess them on their ability to follow security protocols, even if they take a little more time to implement. If agents are pressured to help customers as fast as possible, they are much more likely to make slip-ups. 

10. Educate customers on keeping their details secure

Assure customers that your business will never, ever ask for their credit card details. If hackers gain access to your customer database with email addresses, they may send emails pretending to be from your company, thus tricking them into giving up personal information. Encourage customers to report suspicious emails immediately, and warn them never to share their password with anyone. They should also be advised to create very strong passwords and never to reuse them across accounts. 

What to do when there’s a customer service security breach

Take steps to prevent further breaches

If the worst comes to the worst and a breach does happen, you must identify the source of the breach and take steps to ensure no more data is compromised. This can take the form of asking every customer to change their password. 

Inform customers immediately

The last thing you should do after experiencing a security breach is to hide this fact from your customers. It’s best to let them know straight away in a simple manner, detailing exactly what has happened and why. Let customers know where they can find more detailed information about the breach, perhaps in some documentation on your website. If your business is up front from the beginning, customers are much more likely to forgive you. 

Prepare your customer support team

After their data is compromised, you are highly likely to have an influx of customer complaints demanding to know whether their data is now safe and how your company intends to compensate them. Make sure your agents are fully prepared to handle these kinds of tickets and give them extra breaks to help them cope with demand. Customers are probably going to be scared and angry and may take it out on your service reps, so ensure you give them extra support at this time. 

Empathize with your customers

Customers will be feeling unhappy if you experience a breach and not least because this puts them at risk of fraud. Through no fault of their own, customers now have to worry about unintended negative consequences as a result of their relationship with your business. Be empathetic in the language you choose and reassure customers you are doing everything you can to protect their data. If you show customers you can understand how they’re feeling, this makes it much more likely they will keep doing business with you. 

Issue a genuine apology

Even if the security breach wasn’t your fault, it’s best to offer a sincere and genuine apology to the customers who have been affected. Take responsibility for the situation and explain that you are reviewing all your processes to find out what has led to this disaster. Treat the breach with seriousness and accountability to assure customers that you know how badly this has affected them. This apology should come from someone senior in your company like the CEO or CTO. 

Explain the ways you will prevent a further breach

Customers will want to know that nothing like this is ever going to happen again, or they may start thinking of taking their business to a competitor with better security. Tell customers exactly how you are going to increase your security to avoid a recurrence of the breach. If it arose from a vulnerability in your system, reassure customers that your technicians are making every effort to fix it. 

See for yourself

Keeping is the fastest, simplest way to manage customer support right inside Gmail.

Wrapping up

Keeping your customers’ data secure is something you should take very seriously. In today’s world, customer service teams just can’t be sure there isn’t a malicious hacker trying to hack their data. When customers are sharing their data with you online, they implicitly expect your business to take care of it. 

It’s up to every company to be aware that their customer data might be compromised and take steps to secure it. 

And when a breach does happen, the resulting loss of trust between the business and its customers can have a huge impact, not to mention the negative press that could result. It’s best to take steps to ensure that nothing like this can happen in the first place. 

If the worst does happen, make sure to be honest with your customers and put yourself in their shoes. Customers can feel powerless in this type of situation and they want to know the business is working tirelessly on their behalf to make it right. 

If your team can recover successfully from a security breach, this can result in increased trust and loyalty from your customers. 

Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath
Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She is often writing case studies, help documentation, and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.