Public Sector organisations are required to meet additional standards when it comes to communications and processing payments.
Any organisation that handles card payments over the phone needs to comply with the PCI DSS – a set of 12 binding requirements, designed to ensure complete data protection for organisations that handle payment cards.
This includes ensuring no payment card information is stored, in addition to having no manual intervention to capture card details verbally during a call.
This poses a significant challenge for many organisations that are required to record telephone calls for compliance purposes. Regulatory bodies and local authorities are no exception.
For councils, handling thousands of financial transactions every month is an important task. As well as face to face, by postal cheques or direct debits, telephone-based payments continue to be a popular choice and one that councils need to offer to those living in their town, district or borough.
The difficulty arises however when payment solutions need to not only be accessible, but compliant with telephone payment security guidelines to ensure payments are handled in the most secure way. With data breaches regularly reported in the media, local authorities would not want to be exposed by non-compliance or data breaches.
At present many local authorities are heavily reliant on customers paying through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, which are automated systems that allow a computer to recognise and process both speech and DTMF telephone keypad tones. While IVRs help to reduce call handling times and can provide an out-of-hours payment option, they also can also add another layer of friction to the checkout process which results in higher levels of dropout.
When customers are paying a car parking fine or similar, adding automation at a time when the customer may be frustrated or reluctant to pay can also exacerbate the problem. Simplifying this process reduces dropped call rates.
Councils are looking at ways to make call handling as efficient as possible, while providing a quality experience to the person at the end of the line. The preferred solution is taking payments whilst keeping the customer on the phone, however historically there have been PCI Compliance issues with this approach as agents are exposed to customers’ sensitive card data, which creates a potential risk.
With customers from every walk of life – from young to old, those who are familiar with technology and those who aren’t – councils need to identify a payment solution that is seamless, and where its trained customer service team can fully assist customers for an improved service, and to ensure payments are taken securely.