Consumers’ changing attitudes to telephone payments in a post-pandemic world

Contact center management, PCI DSS, Security

Consumers’ changing attitudes to telephone payments in a post-pandemic world

We’ve been conducting regular research on consumers’ attitudes to telephone payments since 2014. Our most recent update of this research reviews the current state of play regarding consumers’ attitudes to card payments by phone and assesses how these have changed over the last few years, particularly considering the ongoing effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and how that has changed consumer behaviour. You can download your free copy of the full research report here.

Consumer concerns about contact center security remain

The good news is that this most recent iteration of the research shows that levels of consumer concern about contact center security have fallen somewhat since 2018, overall however this is an area about which many consumers are still worried. In 2018 only 8% of consumers strongly agreed that organizations they bought from over the phone would keep their personal and payment card details secure. This percentage has now more than doubled to 17% which, whilst being a step in the right directly, still indicates that most consumers still have concerns in this area.

Consumers are much less willing to read their card details out over the phone

When we last conducted this research in 2018 a big issue was the number of businesses still asking customers to read out their payment card details to the agent when making a payment over the telephone. Consumer awareness of the risks of this approach has grown significantly since then. In 2018, 20% of respondents agreed that this method of payment was totally secure – this number has now fallen to just 11%. Similarly, in 2018, 20% of consumers said they were happy to give their card details to agents over the telephone, but this proportion has now fallen to just 17%.

However, it seems that this message may be getting through to contact centers. We asked consumers what happened the last time they paid for something over the phone. Back in 2018 almost half of consumers (49%) said that they had been asked to read their card details to the agent. In 2021 this percentage has fallen to 23%.

Consumers are increasingly aware that reading out card details is not secure and that other options are available to businesses. One of our respondents summarised the overall tone of responses, saying that “I would feel safer if there was no physical access to my payment card details as well as digital. Having others being able to see my card details is very insecure.”

The switch to home working presents security challenges for contact centers

The issue of payment card security has become more prominent largely due to the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic it was very rare indeed for contact center operatives to work from home. In the UK, only 4% of agents worked at home, rising to 13% in the US. However, the pandemic saw a massive switch to working from home. Whilst before the pandemic 57% of UK contact centers did not use any homeworkers, this fell to zero during 2020. In fact, during 2020, 71% of UK contact centers had more than half of their staff working from home, a figure that rose to 87% in the US. A poll of 107 contact center managers found only 4 who were expecting a complete return to the office, suggesting this switch to home working is likely to be to a large extent permanent.

This means that contact center managers face the challenge of how to monitor and manage staff remotely and there are a range of additional security and privacy concerns. For example, if an agent is dealing with sensitive information such as financial or medical data in a home working environment where other people are present. 58% of the contact center managers who took part in our survey stated that ensuring the security of their customers’ sensitive data was a challenge when switching to working from home.

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has produced updated guidelines for organizations in response to the changing working practices during the pandemic, reiterating how the most secure solution is to ensure that card data does not enter your contact center environment at all, which includes homeworking environments.

There’s been a clear growth in online shopping during the pandemic, however the telephone remains an important channel of communication with 42% of consumers agreeing that they interact with organizations more over the telephone than they did prior to the pandemic.

How CardEasy can help?

Using CardEasy saves you time and money by fully de-scoping your contact center operations from PCI DSS, whilst removing the need for time-consuming oversight, PCI audits and the risks associated with handling card payments. Not only can it improve your call handing times and your customer’s experience, but setup costs are low, and ongoing managed service costs can be linked directly to your utilization.

Whether you choose to use CardEasy for agent assisted, IVR or digital payments (or all three), your customers’ payment card data is never seen or heard by your agents, will not be captured in your call or screen recordings and will not enter your systems or networks, regardless of whether your agents are working from home or in your contact center.

Download your free copy of the full research report here and please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how CardEasy can help secure your contact center payments.