Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Majority of Customers Have Concerns in Paying by Phone

July 14, 2014

Offering options to customers, in terms of making payments for goods and services, is just good business. The more options a user has, the more likely a user is to find at least one option sufficiently palatable to use to pay for the items in question. But a new study from Syntec Telecom is showing that there are some breeds of payment option that just don't work for most people, and one that's got a major problem is paying over the phone.

The Syntec Telecom study—the third of its kind—showed that 60 percent of customers were “reluctant to pay over the phone” for goods and services. What's more, 75 percent of those surveyed now felt that organizations really should be doing more than is currently done in terms of preventing credit and debit card fraud, and 67 percent believed that it should be “a general rule” that companies are not allowed to keep records regarding user’s credit and debit card information on the company database. 46 percent believed that some breed of technology should be put to work in keeping said details from call center agents.

That's a distressing picture for most any company with an option to pay over the phone, but the centerpiece has yet to roll in. Just one percent of all respondents in the study felt that payment over the phone to a call center was sufficiently secure to use without concern. That's a staggeringly low number, and one that really should give companies a note of pause. Syntec Telecom's director, Simon Beeching, provided a bit of commentary to explain the results, noting, “Our survey is now in its third year and shows that today’s consumers are more aware of the risks than ever. The message from consumers is clear; organizations need to speed up their adoption of new and more secure payment methods or risk losing business.”

Indeed, on a fundamental level, Beeching is exactly right. When statistically almost no one actually trusts the option to make a payment over the phone, that's a dark sign, when clear majorities believe that there are issues with the security of call center payments and that companies shouldn't be allowed to hold details in databases, that's a problem, and when almost a clear majority believes that the call center agents may well be the biggest hole in the security armor, that's a real problem. Is this concern justified? Well, given that not so long ago major stores like Target and Neiman Marcus got hacked for credit and debit card details—and this wasn't for details provided over the phone, either, but in stores—it's not surprising some customers would be concerned. Throw in commercials that feature employees of stores and businesses actively stealing credit card data, and that's a recipe to make customers afraid.

So what can be done? Establishing clear protection measures can be a help, but it might not be enough to win back the concerned patron. Some stores may want to offer guarantees of protection, but that could be an expensive process, and the theft may not even be related to that store. This is an issue that will need to be addressed on several levels in order to make users feel safe making payments over the phone.

Edited by Adam Brandt