This article was posted on European Business Review.
How Contact Centres Can Make Themselves Data Compliant in the Face of AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly gaining momentum, and this technology has become particularly common in contact centres, improving customer experiences and interactions and boosting efficiency. The issue is that as much benefit as this technology brings, there are some potential issues to deal with regarding data compliance.
Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, says: “Contact centres must tread carefully in this AI-driven age to safeguard customer data while delivering personalised experiences.”
This is why businesses using contact centres, and contact centres themselves, must be willing to put specific measures in place that will ensure data compliance no matter what industry they might be working with, or who their customers are. Read on to find out more about how to do this and why it’s important.
Understanding Data Compliance in Contact Centres
Data compliance is the ethical cornerstone of responsible customer service. In contact centres, there is a wealth of sensitive information, and adhering to data compliance regulations is paramount in building and maintaining trust with customers. Compliance entails meeting legal and industry standards regarding the collection, processing, storage, and use of customer data, and most of the guidelines fall under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.
In the context of contact centres, data compliance is about more than just following rules and regulations. It’s about valuing customer privacy, respecting their preferences, and ensuring data is handled responsibly. Customers entrust contact centres with their personal information in pursuit of seamless, personalised experiences, and by honouring this trust and prioritising data compliance, contact centres can forge deeper connections with their customers, creating a sense of loyalty and confidence in their services.
The key thing to remember is that AI isn’t a complete product. Contact centres must work hard to ensure AI is going to do what is expected of it. The chief scientist at LivePerson, a conversational AI platform provider, told CMSWire that generative AI and LLMs (large language models) such as ChatGPT are not ready for enterprise use right out of the box and that there are several issues that must be addressed when using generative AI. “LLMs can include bias, whether through toxicity, hurtful language or polarising responses leading to unintended consequences,” the scientist said. This has already been seen with Amazon’s employment pre-screening AI, and more recently with the new AI-driven Bing.
Challenges of AI Implementation
No matter what the end goal or how committed contact centres might be to data compliance, this isn’t always easy when using AI. Read on to discover some of the challenges contact centres face.
As AI handles vast amounts of data, security becomes a much bigger concern. Contact centres store a treasure trove of sensitive information, including personal details, financial data, and communication history. This means robust security measures have to be implemented to safeguard against unauthorised access or data breaches. A single breach can have devastating consequences, eroding customer trust and exposing the contact centre to legal and financial liabilities.
This is why investing in state-of-the-art encryption, multi-factor authentication, and constant monitoring of data access are essential steps to ensure the contact centre’s data security is strong and protects customer privacy.
It can be difficult to understand how AI algorithms work and to know precisely why a certain decision was made. This means ensuring transparency in AI processes is crucial to building trust with customers, as customers have the right to know how their data is being used and how AI impacts their interactions with the contact centre.
Explaining the role of AI in customer interactions and providing easy-to-understand information about data storage and usage can foster a sense of confidence and transparency in the contact centre’s operations.
Obtaining explicit consent from customers for data usage is essential, but with AI, the complexity of data processing might require different consent options. The traditional one-size-fits-all approach to consent might no longer be enough, and contact centres will need to implement systems that allow customers to provide informed consent for specific AI-driven processes. This means clear communication is needed about the various ways in which customers’ data will be used and the options they have to customise their consent options.
AI systems are only as reliable as the data they are trained on, and ensuring accurate and unbiased data is crucial to prevent discriminatory outcomes. Biases present in training data can lead to AI-driven decisions that inadvertently discriminate against certain customer groups. To get past this issue, contact centres need to continuously monitor AI systems’ performance, conduct regular audits of training data, and employ techniques to reduce bias and enhance the fairness and accuracy of AI predictions, which can boost call centre productivity and efficiency.
Strategies for Data Compliance
There are serious potential problems that AI can introduce to data compliance in contact centres. The good news is there are ways to deal with these issues so that contact centres can truly benefit from AI technology and customers get the safe, secure experience they deserve. Here are some strategies for robust data compliance.
Conduct a Data Audit
The first step towards data compliance in contact centres is to conduct a comprehensive data audit. This means you need to identify the types of customer data you collect and store, including personal information and interaction history. This audit will provide a clear overview of data processing activities and, importantly, their potential risks. By understanding the data better, contact centres can implement suitable data protection measures.
Establish Clear Policies and Procedures
Developing well-defined data policies and procedures is vital for ensuring compliance. These documents should encompass data handling guidelines, access protocols, security measures, and employee training on data protection. Having clear policies in place ensures that everyone in the contact centre understands their roles and responsibilities concerning data compliance.
Implement Secure Data Storage and Access Controls
Secure data storage is non-negotiable no matter what business you’re running, but in a contact centre it must be paramount. The best thing to do is to use the most up-to-date encryption, and access controls to limit data access to authorised personnel only. This approach minimises the risk of data breaches and unauthorised disclosure, and data encryption also means that even if a breach occurs, the data remains protected and unreadable to any hacker or cybercriminal.
Invest in Secure and Compliant Contact Centre Solutions
To ensure the highest level of data protection, contact centres should invest in secure and compliant contact centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions. These solutions hold the necessary data security certification and GDPR compliance as well as advanced encryption to protect customer data from malicious actors. Additionally, these systems often come with built-in access control features that limit the data available to authorised personnel. The CCaaS solution should also be regularly audited and monitored for vulnerabilities, so any potential weaknesses can be addressed before they become an issue.
Adopt Privacy by Design
Privacy by design is an approach that emphasises data protection from the very beginning of a project’s development. Contact centres must integrate privacy principles into their AI systems and processes, ensuring data compliance is ingrained in their operations. This proactive approach creates a privacy-centric culture within the organisation.
Ensure Transparency and Explainability
Maintaining transparency is crucial to earning and keeping customer trust, so clearly communicating to customers how their data will be used, what AI processes are involved, and what benefits they can expect from these technologies is vital. Transparent communication helps customers feel more comfortable and reassured about sharing their data with the contact centre, and that in turn means the contact centre can do more to help customers. Since 69% of UK consumers are less likely to use specific companies after a bad experience, this is crucial.
Enable Customer Consent Management
Give customers more control over their data by enabling consent management options. Provide clear options for data usage and obtain explicit consent for AI-driven processing activities, and you’ll be able to set your customers’ minds at ease as well as gather the data you need to help them in the best possible way. Offering customers the ability to manage their consent empowers them to make informed decisions about their personal information, enhancing the CX experience.
Conduct Regular Data Protection Impact Assessments
Regular data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) help identify and mitigate potential privacy risks associated with AI implementation. These assessments ensure that contact centres stay on top of changing compliance requirements and adjust their strategies accordingly. By regularly evaluating data-protecting practices, contact centres can proactively address potential and emerging risks and continuously improve data compliance measures.
As contact centres embrace the transformative power of AI, data compliance must remain a top priority. By understanding data compliance, addressing the challenges of AI implementation, and implementing effective strategies, contact centres can move forward with new ideas and techniques that will safeguard their customers and build a valued reputation.