Can WFH Advisers Take Card Payments Securely Over The Phone?

Before the pandemic there was a common misconception that work-from-home (WFH) contact centre homeworkers could not possibly work in a secure environment. It’s simply not true. Organisations have been designing secure networks that include remote workers for many years. Yet it took a full lockdown for others to see that WFH was possible and that services, such as payments, could be secure if planned correctly.

Many WFH solutions hastily created during the pandemic didn’t address key security issues. PCI DSS compliant card payment handling is a great example. Some executives didn’t believe that PCI DSS compliance was even possible when working remotely so WFH was only ever seen as a temporary solution that couldn’t continue after the emergency period.

It is possible to create a secure WFH environment.  However, you must plan and build your network correctly. It was certainly possible before the experience of lockdowns forced many companies to experiment with remote work and it remains possible now.

Sensée has almost 10 years’ experience in delivering PCI DSS compliance in a WFH setting and currently has PCI DSS Level 2 Service Provider status for a well known UK blue chip. We also built a fit-for-purpose card payment system for the service operation of a well known financial services firm to enable homeworkers to take over the phone credit/debit card payments.

When you look at the PCI security standards website it doesn’t take long to find that they have published extensive advice and training on how to deploy their standards for a WFH environment. It’s no secret that PCI DSS compliance is entirely possible for WFH advisers. In fact, the PCI DSS guidance on WFH advisers has been available for over a decade.

Executives that need more convincing may want to look back to the PCI blog published on March 23, 2020 – just as the Covid-19 lockdowns were starting for most companies across Europe and the US. This blog lists the specific measures required to ensure that companies can continue to remain PCI DSS compliant even if their workers are sent home.

The requirements are broken down into People, Process, and Technology and include security training for contact centre workers with a particular focus on those that will provide service from home. Processes such as dual-factor authentication to access corporate systems and restricting physical access to recording devices are also detailed along with technology restrictions, such as configuration and virus protection.

The security of WFH customer service teams has been a common concern of executives for a long time, but the information and examples are out there. PCI DSS guidance and compliance has been possible for many years – it’s entirely a question of how you go about building processes and standards for your home working team.

As I mentioned, Sensée has real case studies and examples of this. WFH security is not just applicable in emergency situations, such as a pandemic lockdown. You can design the right level of security into a WFH solution from the start and then create a far more flexible work environment for your employees – that flexibility will be reflected back in the positive experience customers report when interacting with these advisers.

To find out more about Sensée’s range of WFH technology, consulting and BPO services, or about how we can help you build a bespoke PCI DSS compliant solution, please contact sales@sensee.co.uk

Will UK Housing And House Prices Adapt To A World Of Remote Work?

House prices are a divisive topic. Many people stare at the telephone-number prices for houses and flats in the UK and feel that even the deposit on a mortgage will be difficult to find without the “Bank of Mum & Dad.” Others talk proudly about their home as if it is an investment that can easily be cashed in at any time – which ignores that if you ever want to enjoy that increase in value then you still need to buy another home to replace it.

The latest house price index from Zoopla suggests that in the year to August 2022 UK house prices increased by around 8.3% – with the average home value reaching £256,600. Six months ago the rate of growth was 9.6% so some are pointing to a slowdown, but Zoopla suggests that if you look at the numbers over a five-year period then growth is still looking strong.

Demand for homes has declined a little since the immediate post-pandemic months, but it is still 25% stronger than the five-year average. This unexpected resilience in housing has led Zoopla to predict more sales and stronger price growth in 2022 than expected at the start of the year.

Commenting to Mortgage Strategy magazine, Hargreaves Lansdown senior pensions and retirement analyst Helen Morrissey says: “The impact of the pandemic continues to be felt as the shift to flexible working makes people reconsider their living arrangements and maybe make the move to somewhere a bit further afield that is more affordable. The increase in people choosing to retire as a result of the pandemic is also fuelling activity and house price growth remains well supported for the time being.”

These two trends are interesting. Although the UK is being buffeted by a cost of living crisis and high inflation, there are changes taking place in the housing market that are not just driven by people sitting back and watching their house grow more valuable.

People deciding to retire early because of the pandemic are downsizing and moving to less expensive areas, but perhaps more importantly, people are seeing their home as a workplace more than ever. This means that they are seeking homes in areas where they can afford more space and the home office is becoming an integral requirement during many home searches today.

The post-pandemic ability of many people to work-from-home (WFH) in the UK is fueling growth in sales. The Zoopla research suggests that those who expect to be WFH more often are now five times more likely to move home than those tied to an office. The UK Office for National Statistics has published data suggesting that the number of workers logging in remotely more than doubled over the pandemic, bringing the total of regular remote workers to around 9.7 million.

As the Zoopla research suggests, with a group of almost ten million people in the UK now regularly WFH, it is no surprise that what people want from a home is changing.This group of millions of people in the UK is more prepared to move home, they want to explore the suburbs or smaller towns so they can afford more space, and a home office is essential. 

This creates many questions beyond exploring the growth in home value alone. Will new home developers respond quickly to this trend and how will new homes look, feel, and be marketed in the near future?

In the next year or two, it may not just be the cost of living crisis that changes the UK property market. This block of ten million remote workers could create more fundamental change than the property market has ever seen since the development of railways allowed the creation of suburbs.

Webinar Recording: Addressing Today’s Key Homeworking Challenges 

 

In our recent webinar hosted by the South West Contact Centre Forum, we  discussed key homeworking issues facing businesses today, including:

  • How to better manage the consequences of cost of living increases
  • Dealing with vulnerable customers
  • Overcoming recruitment challenges with a WFH/hybrid model
  • Addressing ‘time to competency’ concerns
  • Employee engagement in a WFH/hybrid setting
  • Retraining team leaders to better manage/communicate with homeworkers
  • Bursting the bubble of WFM misconceptions
  • Using WFH resources to overcome imbalances in consumer demand

Jane Thomas, Managing Director of the SWCCF, chaired the event which featured Sensée’s Jo Hodge (Service Delivery Manager) and Jo Mallalieu (Team Leader).

The webinar is now available on replay so if you want to hear our team talking about all these points in more detail. Please go to https://bit.ly/3JD9VHe Passcode: HtL+G?0N