Originally published on Customer Magazine
It has been a challenging four months in the contact center and CX industry, with news coming out every day on the successes and failures to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Businesses, from small and medium to the largest enterprises in the world have had to scramble to keep up with new government mandates, financial instability, uncertainty in every realm of life, and recovering after having to put in place plans that go beyond traditional Business Continuity Planning.
The best laid plans of businesses, government organizations and more have been stress-tested beyond anything we could have imagined, and to add insult to injury, contact center volumes are rising given the amount of uncertainty and confusion.
The dust is starting to settle on the emergency moves made to keep communications and services flowing, and even as we believe we are starting to see an end in sight – as hot spots pop up across the U.S. and across the globe, it seems impossible to keep pace as this pandemic is far from over.
One of the most disturbing trends has been in identity theft and fraud, as contact centers, healthcare providers, insurance companies, government agencies, and more rushed to get Work From Home (WFH) platforms set up.
Pindrop, an enterprise voice services company, published the results of a survey on how COVID-19 has impacted contact centers, especially when it comes to cyber protection. They found:
For banks and brokerage, as the markets crashed, call volumes increased as customers tried to manage their portfolios in the middle of the “perfect storm.” Their report showed that in the early stages of the pandemic overall call volume to the contact center climbed 300% in just days. By the later stages, they saw enterprise contact center call volumes jump over 1,000% from normal levels.
The report also showed that as contact center teams began to shift operations to home-based working, agent call capacity dropped by 20%. Tireless work on the part of operations teams and agents have restored nearly 50% of lost capacity. However, they are still seeing a 12% decline from pre-COVID levels.
What may be most interesting about this report is the speed at which adversaries recognized the opportunity to hack into systems where the attack surface expanded overnight, leading to massive scams associated with fraudulent activity across banking, financial services, insurance, and other industries. Pindrop’s report showed, for example, one large bank saw a spike of two times their weekly pre-COVID call volume in just one day related to the status of stimulus funds being deposited into customer accounts.
We caught up with Greg Weber, CTO of Eventus, a Denver-based contact center and CX strategy, technology and services company which stepped up immediately to support their Fortune 500 clients navigate through the crisis.
“Digital fraud continues to increase since the COVID-19 outbreak,” Weber said, “and we’ve been on top of that for our clients since the beginning. Nefarious organizations see their opening, and are taking over accounts – or trying to take over accounts to commit fraud in the context of a massive increase in call volume serviced by Work From Home agents caused by the natural fears of consumers.”
Last month, Eventus announced a partnership with Journey, a company which came out of stealth to reveal a new consumer-empowered way to protect and manage contact center interactions.
“Journey’s platform makes it possible to accurately verify the identity of a customer and exchange private information in a safe manner. Not only is there a secure communications channel between the customer and the business, but personal data is only appropriately disseminated to the agents when absolutely required. Fraud from both the customer side and the agent side is avoided,” Weber said.
“Their solution empowers consumers and differentiates the brands who make it possible to dramatically reduce the time it takes to get their questions answered and problems solved. Their software and AI capabilities fit perfectly with our ongoing efforts to leverage automation and innovation to more intelligently orchestrate CX for significantly improved outcomes, lower costs, and stronger compliance.”
In addition to partnerships like these, Weber said Eventus has been busier than ever creating assessments of security postures even as the transformation to Work From Home (WFH) models was well underway.
“Like so many companies, we were in immediate triage mode so we could continue to serve customers and were successfully able to transform premises-based contact center systems into fully virtualized platforms,” Weber said. “While some businesses slowed down or even stopped, Eventus shifted into high gear to do all we could for our clients each day. While doing so swiftly and surely, we also recognized that the interim models left open ways for adversaries to hack in to try and steal private information, credentials and more. By working with cyber security experts like Journey, we’ve been able to bring a depth of knowledge and solutions to our clients including the unique way in which Journey’s mobile-app-based process works.”
Weber said, “While many companies like ours are experiencing disruption to the evolution and growth of their businesses, for us this global health crisis has brought on a surge of projects, and we are honored to be able to help address the next normal. We have miles to go before we sleep, to loosely paraphrase Robert Frost, but we are making progress every day and are grateful to be called to help our clients and partners at this extraordinary time.”
Weber says Eventus has no plans of slowing down; in fact, he says, “out of this moment, we are seeing innovations that will have a positive impact for years to come, long after COVID-19 has settled down. There will always be a new crisis, and organizations know they need to be ready. They want to be ready. We are accelerating our innovation while supporting our clients and are working with partners more intensely than ever. Delivering support without compromising security and in fact strengthening security is extremely important, and 100% possible.”
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.
The past few decades have seen the business world sway multiple times between call center outsourcing and internal call center operations.