Chat applications are cropping up all over, now almost ubiquitous on all sorts of web sites. Hang around for more than a couple of minutes perusing the latest iPhones on a wireless carrier site and you’re almost guaranteed to find a friendly avatar offering to answer any questions via a chat session.
In a recent E-Digital Research study, the #1 preferred way to communicate with companies is via live chat:
The more chat is utilized, the more an age-old issue rears its ugly head: are such sessions secure? Or do they even need to be?
Increasingly, the answer is yes, they do, says Rich Quattrocchi, vice president of business development at Mutare. which makes an array of software tools for secure, convenient communications – including chat.
“Security is of paramount importance in healthcare, retail, mobile apps, insurance, and even for internal company helpdesks,” said Quattrocchi.
“You need to secure chat for just about anything today,” he says. “If you’re an online retailer, not only should you be concerned about potential hacking, but you have PCI compliance concerns you need to address. You need to make sure your information is secure and not something that some man in the middle can grab.”
Asked for a few examples of where secure chat could and should be employed, Quattrocchi had no problem coming up with several.
Healthcare – Improving Patient Engagement and Maintaining HIPAA Compliance
Patients and their care providers are increasingly demanding digital access to care providers. Chat is being used to schedule appointments, communicate instructions for pre-visit screening or surgical procedures and for secure conversations between patient and doctors.
“Healthcare is getting more competitive and patient engagement is key not only for better healthcare outcomes, but also patient loyalty to their providers,” Quattrocchi saidys. Quattrocchi “HIPAA compliance for these communications is a key consideration,.” Tools like Mutare’s Smart ChatSmart Chat ensures all communication between patients and providers remains secure.”, he says.
Secure Chat – Crucial for Online Retailers
Retail is probably the one chat example most of us are familiar with, as it’s used frequently on – for ecommerce sites. In order to reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts, retailers are stepping up their chat efforts, offering to help buyer’s complete transactions. But you need to protect those online chats and transactions from hackers and even the contact center employees.
In order for a retailer to achieve PCI compliance, the purchase information, especially credit card numbers, need to be secure. Solutions like Mutare’s Smart Chat allow contact center agents to co-browse with a buyer and guide them to a secure transaction page to complete the purchase. When the purchaser fills out the online form, the contact center agent cannot see the credit card information and the entire chat session is encrypted to keep the conversation PCI compliant and secure from prying eyes.
Mobility and Secure Chat in Mobile Apps
“If you look at traffic on the web, about 60% of it is coming from mobile devices,” Quattrocchi says. “Many of these shoppers are millennials, who are not likely to ask for help but if you reach out to them proactively, they’re likely to accept.”
While secure chat is important for any web communications, especially those dealing with sensitive personal information, it’s even more so when dealing with mobile, Wi-Fi connected devices. That’s because, as we covered in this previous post, it’s not at all difficult for intruders to steal data from such connections.
It’s not just retailers using secure chat on mobile devices, however. More companies of all stripes are providing mobile apps that support just a fraction of the capabilities available on their web sites – those that are well-suited to mobile devices.
“It has to be simple. You can’t take all the functions of your web site and try to duplicate them in a mobile app,” Quattrocchi says. For those functions that aren’t supported, secure chat can help. “You give them an escape,” he says. “Instead of people being frustrated that they can’t do something in the app, they can chat with an agent or concierge who can solve the problem on the spot.”
Insurance Companies Increasingly Turning to Secure Mobile Chat
Another example he offered was that of insurance companies. “Say you get pulled over in a rental car and need proof of insurance, but don’t have your insurance card with you,” Quattrocchi says. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get on an app and chat with the agent to get a copy of your card and show it to the officer?” Or maybe you could use the same sort of app after you’re in an accident and need to trade insurance information. Clearly, security will be important in either case.
Photos and Secure Chat – Taking Customer Care to Another Level
Another key reason that mobile devices are a natural for secure chat is that they can access the device’s camera roll. That same insurance company could enable customers to use the app to expedite claims – such as by sending a photo of the damage to the car.
Or consider an auto parts distributor that caters to do-it-yourselfers. Customers often run into unexpected trouble during a repair, maybe break a part and they’re not sure what the part is. If they can take a photo and share it with an expert via chat, the customer gets instant expert advice, orders the part and picks it up at the local auto parts store 30 minutes later – problem solved, Quattrocchi says.
Using Secure Chat to Make Contact Centers More Productive
Call centers are another area where secure chat can help by increase productivity, sometimes dramatically.
“A customer service rep can only talk to one person at a time. But a chat operator can talk to three or four people at a time, which enables a lot of multi-tasking,” he says. For a healthcare organization, for example, this brings the cost per transaction down while increasing the level of service to the end client.
Got any more good use cases for secure chat? Let us know in the comments below.