Be careful with outbound security

One of the things we quite often do in outbound contact centres is to use some words like “before we start, I need to ask you some security questions”.

But if you think about it logically – who originated the call?

There is no way of the customer knowing if you are genuine.  Since you called out of the blue, how does the customer know that you are not a scammer.  After all, you called them.

Now, there is often good reason for this, typically as a result of the Data Protection Act, and you do need to make sure you are speaking to the right person – particularly as there could be two Mr Smiths in the house and you want to reach the right one.

The problem with this is we instantly get people thinking defensively.

I think that we need to do more work on confirming our identities before we start asking our customers to confirm theirs.

I think that’s a real challenge that we have to deal with.

Published On: 6th Feb 2012 - Last modified: 17th Jul 2017
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  1. This is a fantastic point which I have raised on several occasions with agents who phone me out of the blue.

    An interesting retort has been, phone us back, but besides that not being something I as a customer want to do (cost, convenience etc), its just as easy to scam a similar 0845 no., so the benefit is slight.

    I guess the problem is mostly that whatever system gets introduced, a scammer is going to take advantage, if they can!

    Oli 6 Feb at 5:32 pm
  2. This is a very good point as noted by Oli.

    I think for courtesy’s sake you have to have an inbound number that customers can use to call back if they wish.

    I ask agents to explain that a customer is welcome to call us back on the number they already have published in our catalogue or in any correspondence we’ve already sent them. Those who have expressed a concern about security have always been happy to do this.

    Otherwise, any way of confirming your previous relationship with the caller risks a breach of data protection. Even ‘I’m calling about an order placed with us at ___’ risks ruining a surprise.


    Matt Prowse 9 Feb at 6:04 pm
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