(Last Updated On: March 5, 2018)

10 Data Security Tips for Chat Agents

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Security is critical for live chat agents

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and provides general recommendations. Please consult with your organization’s Information Security Officer to ensure that your chat program meets organization-specific security protocols.

Live chat support has officially swept the business world as an essential tool for B2B and B2C segments. More than just a passing trend, companies keen on increasing conversion rates, driving KPIs, and reducing cost-per-interaction have incorporated chat into their overarching customer engagement strategies.

Live chat is one of the most convenient, easy to use customer service channels and many online consumers now prefer using chat instead of email or phone. However, no matter how great live chat service is, like any online customer support channel, certain security procedures must be followed by every chat agent to keep customers, companies, and team members safe.

1) Keep Multi-Chats Separate

The most efficient way to offer live chat support is to have multiple chat windows open at once, dealing with two to five customers at a time depending on your multi-tasking ability and the difficulty of their problems. However, when you’re communicating with several people concurrently, it’s vital that you keep their information separate as well. Never type or copy-paste a customer’s data or a revealingly detailed response into the wrong chat box.

2) Ensure that Your Chat Software is Secure

The next step to live chat security is to know exactly how secure your chat channels are. The ideal chat channel is encrypted from both ends, is secured against intrusion and vulnerabilities, and follows other in-depth security best practices. It’s of the utmost importance to ensure that your chat solution adheres to standard security protocols by using double-layer SSL encryption (communications between web client and server are encrypted in transit and at rest), network security controls, secure authentication, reputable hosting services, and more.

3) Never Send Private Information Over an Insecure Channel

Personal/private information could put your company or client at risk if you’re not careful about how you transmit it. Ensure your organization chooses a solution that offers features such as HIPAA compliance, PCI compliance, secure data transfer, and more.

Private Information Includes

  • Payment card and account numbers
  • Payment card expiration date and security code
  • Passwords and security question answers
  • Customer home address and phone numbers
  • Security Codes (that don’t expire)
  • Social security numbers
  • Personal information like health records

4) Report Abuse Immediately

Almost no customer is perfect but, as every customer service agent knows, some situations prove to be quite difficult. If a customer yells at you, threatens you, or makes inappropriate comments during your chat, report the abuse to your supervisor immediately and make sure the chat log saves even if you don’t normally save chat logs. This is for your own protection more than cyber-security but is still very important. Reporting abuse quickly and keeping evidence can protect you from future abuse and potential lawsuits.

5) Watch Out for Scammers

Another form of chat abuse involves scammers. This might be a hacker pretending to be a preexisting client, hoping to get some unauthorized information for fraud or con-artistry later or it could be a real client trying to scam the company out of a refund, free items, or discounts. Always keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and facts that don’t line up. Once again, report immediately.

6) Never Open an Un-Scanned File

Some chat programs will allow files to be sent by the customer or customers might try to send you emails with attachments containing private information. While this can be completely legitimate, opening unscanned files from unconfirmed sources is the fastest way to infect a company with malware known to the hacking community. Hackers love chat support, so don’t get phished or scammed. Scan all documents before opening or use a safe virtual document sharing platform.

7) Don’t Give Out Personal Contact Information

No matter how much you’ve enjoyed chatting with a customer (or how sorry you are for making a mistake), never ever give out your personal contact information. With permission from your supervisor, you might share your work email to keep in touch on a long-term solution for a customer, but your private email, address, full name, and so on should never be shared.

8) If You Keep Chat Logs, Encrypt Them

Chat logs are incredibly useful both for customer service research and improvement and for maintaining a continuous relationship with existing customers. However, your chat logs can also contain sensitive information and identifying data that could be used against either you or the customers involved. If you save chat logs and have any control over the storage method, make sure they’re encrypted so that if your company is malware-breached, they won’t be able to read anything.

9) Be Very Careful About Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is by far one of the most effective ways to figure out what’s going on with a customer’s system or to show a visually-inclined customer how to perform a sequence of desktop troubleshooting steps. However, if sharing your screen, make sure the customer doesn’t see the content of your other chats, sensitive customer information on your CRM, or anything else that might reveal information that doesn’t relate to them.

10) Always Lock the Screen When You Leave Your Workstation

On a final note, your access to the live chat platform and any pending conversations with customers are private and your responsibility to protect. If you need to get up from your workstation either to go on break or ask a coworker across the office for assistance, always lock your screen or log out completely. This way, no unauthorized coworkers (or visitors in the office) can access your interface, read private information, or hold conversations with customers in your name.

Live chat may seem super casual and is an incredibly convenient way to connect customers with company support, but there are very real security concerns involved. Protect your customer’s data from hackers, your company network from malware, and your own job security by following these ten chat security guidelines.