Was allowing your contact centre agents to work from home part of your organisation’s modus operandi when the COVID crisis struck? Several months on, perhaps it still is?


If so, you’re far from alone. As the pandemic unfolded, companies of all stripes and sizes scrambled to equip agents with the technology they needed to keep on keeping on, from the comfort of their living rooms, rather than the contact centre floor.

They included telecoms giant Optus, which in April announced that work-from-home measures would be a permanent feature of its contact centre operations, and insurance group IAG which now has 90 per cent of its workforce based at home.

Weighing the benefits – and risks – of a decentralised contact centre operation

The remote working model has plenty to recommend it. For contact centre agents, the benefits include the ability to work more flexibly and a farewell to the twice-daily commute.

For employers, there are lower overheads, the opportunity to access a broader pool of talent and insurance against the entire operation being knocked out of action, in the event of a COVID outbreak or other unexpected disruption to business.

That’s the upside. The downside? Cyber-security risks which have the potential to sink your organisation if you don’t take steps to mitigate them, by protecting your contact centre platform and the customer data you collect from compromise or attack.

The need to do so has never been greater. This year has seen Australian enterprises across a multitude of industries come under sustained attack from highly organised and highly skilled hackers with a mission to defraud and disrupt. So much so that, in June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the country was being targeted by a sophisticated state-based actor and advised organisations to beef up their defences.

Meanwhile, scores of local organisations have learnt their cyber security lesson the hard way. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner received 518 notifications of serious data breaches between January and June 2020; a 16 per cent increase on the same period last year.

New model, old measures

The challenge for many contact centres is that their traditional cyber-security regimens are predicated on the assumption that agents will be all present and correct in a central location, not handling inquiries from home. Typically, they have perimeter-based protections in place which are significantly less effective when employees are scattered hither and yon.

The likelihood of customer data being breached, inadvertently or otherwise, also increases when contact centre agents work remotely because rules banning the use of personal email accounts and mobile phones become impossible to enforce. That’s a serious matter for any business and particularly those whose agents handle customer payments and financial data.

Keeping it safe in the cloud

Migrating to a cloud-based contact centre platform can provide a solution to these issues, provided you select a vendor that hosts locally, has its own stringent security provisions in place and is continually upgrading them, as the threat landscape evolves.

Once you make the switch, the liability for any breach becomes theirs, not yours, and they’ll take the rap, should issues arise as a result of a security or compliance audit.

At a time when the risk of cyber compromise has never been greater, it may be a move you can ill afford not to take.

Daniel Harding, director – Australia operations, MaxContact