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Compliance Risks for Contact Centres and How to Overcome Them

Wed, March 20, 2024

The modern contact centre operates in a complex web of constantly changing regulations which can differ across jurisdictions and can change at any time.

Keeping track of everything so you know exactly what you need to do – and not do – is an ongoing challenge.

Data protection rules, financial regulations, and industry-specific acts demand careful attention to avoid data breaches, costly fines, damaged reputations, and, most importantly, the erosion of customer trust.

Compliance may initially appear overwhelming, but a proactive strategy can help your organisation adhere to all regulations and can even become a source of competitive advantage.

In this article we will look at the major compliance risks faced by contact centres, and what actions you can take to overcome them. For a deeper dive into this subject, download our full white paper Compliance, Risk and Best Practice in Contact Centres.

The Top Compliance Risks for Contact Centres

Managing compliance in your contact centre extends beyond just ticking off regulatory boxes. It means building a culture where everyone – from agents to senior management – understands their role in protecting data, adhering to regulations, and acting ethically.

Keeping on top of risk and managing compliance requires constant vigilance from everyone, not just the Compliance Officer (which you’ll need if you don’t already have one!). Here are the critical areas of risk:

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy can be a valuable tool in today’s hybrid and remote work environment. However, careful consideration is required to ensure data security remains paramount. Balancing flexibility with compliance requires secure device management protocols, such as Mobile Device Management (MDM), to enable your compliance and IT teams to enforce security policies, conduct remote wiping if needed, and restrict access to sensitive data. Clear policies and training are essential to educate employees on BYOD risks, safe app usage, and separating personal and business data.

You should also mandate specific technical safeguards on personal devices, including encryption, secure connections (like VPNs when accessing work resources), and robust anti-malware protection. Acceptable use policies should clearly outline what tasks are permitted on personal devices and how sensitive data must be segregated from individual information. Training is critical, going beyond technical requirements to educate staff about the specific risks of BYOD, safe practices when using public Wi-Fi, and how to report potential security incidents.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation

AI technologies such as Large Language Models (LLMs) which power chatbots and agent assist solutions, and automation technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which automate manual processes, can be hugely transformative for contact centres. They can increase speed, productivity, accuracy, and customer satisfaction. However, these technologies potentially pose data privacy, security, bias, and accountability risks.

Proactive risk management includes establishing clear AI governance policies on ethical AI development, acceptable data inputs, and bias mitigation strategies. One of the major issues with AI systems is that they can operate like ‘black boxes’ where all you see is the input and output. Not understanding how or why an AI system made a particular decision does not sit well with acceptable use of sensitive customer data, as customers are entitled to know how you use their data. Regular risk assessments should evaluate AI and automated systems for unintended consequences and potential regulatory non-compliance.

Data privacy and security policies for AI must align seamlessly with GDPR and other relevant data protection legislation, ensuring data collection and processing align with these principles and include strict data security measures around AI data storage and processing to prevent breaches and unauthorised access. Ethical development and use guidelines should mandate building bias-aware AI models and emphasise transparent, explainable decision-making by AI systems. Building guardrails into your new chatbot should be one of your significant preoccupations during development. Accountability is critical, as it establishes transparent lines of responsibility for AI-related decisions and any potential consequences.

Data Sovereignty and Cloud Systems

Contact centres operating internationally must understand the data protection laws specific to each region where they process data. With so many systems hosted in the cloud these days, it’s essential to consider data residency. Choose cloud providers that allow you to select data storage locations aligned with regional regulations (e.g., GDPR requires data on EU residents to remain within the EU). Vendor due diligence is also essential, ensuring cloud partners have robust security certifications and practices matching your compliance obligations.

Data Breaches

Even with strong security, data breaches remain a significant threat. Contact centres must prioritise robust cybersecurity, implement layered defences (encryption, firewalls, access controls), and stay updated on the latest threat vectors. Incident response plans should include clear procedures for breach detection, containment, reporting to authorities (where mandated), and customer communication. Staff education is vital, as human error is a significant risk factor. Continuous training on identifying phishing attacks, safe password practices, and incident reporting is crucial.

Third-Party / Fourth-Party Vendors

Outsourcing functions to third-party vendors introduces a new level of compliance complexity. Effective vendor management includes transparent data processing agreements that contractually outline each vendor’s data handling responsibilities, security standards, and breach notification obligations. Regular audits and assessments of your vendors’ compliance posture, potentially through external audits or certifications, are necessary. Fourth-party awareness is also essential, as well as understanding your vendors’ reliance on additional parties and ensuring your data protection standards cascade down the supply chain. The risk landscape is constantly evolving, which is why it’s crucial to treat compliance not as a static destination but as an ongoing journey of adaptation, staff education, and proactive risk management.

Practical Compliance Tips

So much for the risks then – how do you ensure you stay ahead of them? Here’s how to translate compliance awareness into concrete, actionable steps:

Hire a Compliance Officer

The Compliance Officer is much more than a rule enforcer in an organisation wrestling to come to terms with today’s complex regulatory environments. They are a strategic leader, risk mitigator, and educator with a seat at the top decision-making table.

The Compliance Officer in a contact centre plays a vital role in aligning complex regulations with business strategy. They translate regulatory requirements into actionable insights for senior leadership, helping guide decisions that balance growth with compliance risks. The Compliance Officer also proactively identifies emerging regulations and industry shifts to prevent them from becoming urgent issues.

Beyond enforcing rules, the Compliance Officer fosters a risk-aware culture by engaging employees and using real-life examples to promote ethical decision-making. As the Data Protection Officer, they oversee data handling practices, advise on policies, and lead incident response efforts. The Compliance Officer collaborates with IT to implement cybersecurity frameworks and champions regular audits to identify vulnerabilities. They also serve as the external-facing expert, managing responses to security inquiries and showcasing the organisation’s commitment to data protection.

Build a Compliance Culture

The regulatory landscape is dynamic, so make staying informed a priority for all your key staff. Take out subscriptions that will alert you to updates from regulatory bodies and industry associations. Legal newsletters relevant to your operations and geographies are also helpful. Internal knowledge sharing is also essential, as is designating a team member or the Compliance Officer to curate and circulate critical updates to the broader organisation.

Embrace Continuous Learning

Ensure you’re not relying on information that is scattered around the business and which might be out of date. Centralise your compliance knowledge in a comprehensive and accessible legal register that includes legislation, regulations, industry standards, and internal policies. Hold the master of this document in one easily accessible location. Designate an owner who regularly reviews the register and incorporates the latest changes or new legal requirements.

Create Your Legal Register

Certifications like ISO 27001 are much more than just a badge you can use in your marketing, they provide you with a solid structure for a robust security policy. These frameworks mandate a risk-based approach with ongoing risk identification and mitigation, not a one-time checklist. Implementing auditable, documented procedures that stand up to internal and external scrutiny demonstrates a commitment to compliance.

Implement Information Security Frameworks

Having a distributed workforce, as many contact centres do these days, adds a whole new layer of complexity. Ensure your remote workers understand your policies and rules around data security standards, mandating encryption, secure connections (VPNs), and restrictions on using public Wi-Fi for work. Set expectations for a safe home workspace, including lockable storage for sensitive documents. Have clear BYOD policies on acceptable devices, security software, and data separation if personal devices are used.

Put in Place Robust Remote Worker Policies

For modern organisations, compliance isn’t just about regulations, it’s about demonstrating a commitment to responsible business practices. Embedding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into your compliance framework signals this commitment to customers, investors, and the world, strengthening your brand and your compliance posture. This includes responsible data usage, exploring energy-efficient data storage, and working with vendors that have green credentials and take ethical considerations around AI use seriously. Supply chain transparency is also essential, as well as extending ESG principles to your vendor network and favouring partners with strong ethical and environmental practices.

Focus on Sustainability & Governance

All the compliance actions we have looked at create a strong foundation for an ethical business. Revisit your policies regularly, adapt to new threats, and foster a culture where compliance is everyone’s responsibility. By acting proactively, you not only minimise risk but also position your organisation as an ethical, trustworthy leader.

Compliance as a Competitive Advantage

Consumers are increasingly privacy-conscious and more selective about the companies they choose to do business with. Navigating this complex regulatory landscape isn’t just about avoiding penalties. Proactive compliance is a strategic advantage, demonstrating to customers that their data and trust are valued. Organisations build a culture of responsibility and ethical conduct by embedding compliance principles into their operations, thereby minimising risk and creating a foundation for long-term growth, customer loyalty, and a reputation as an industry leader.

Contact centres that prioritise compliance can differentiate themselves, signalling their parent organisations’ commitment to safeguarding data and upholding ethical business practices. This translates into increased customer trust, which drives retention and new business, ultimately fuelling sustainable success in highly competitive markets.

Compliance, Risk and Best Practice in Contact Centres


Compliance, Risk and Best Practice in Contact Centres

Compliance may initially appear overwhelming, but a proactive strategy ensures you adhere to all regulations.

More on Compliance, Risk and Best Practice

Compliance, Risk and Best Practice