GC Business Finance is an alternative finance provider that specialises in start-up loans for entrepreneurs.
Its parent company, The Growth Company, is a not-for-profit, commercially driven organisation dedicated to economic development, inward investment, skills, employment and enterprise.
With a team of contact centre agents tasked with supporting customers, including handling telephone-based card payments, GC Business Finance was faced with a pressing challenge when staff switched from office to home-based working as a result of the pandemic.
Here’s how they overcame the challenge with the help of Puzzel and PCI Pal.
The compliance challenge
GC Business Finance processes around 700 debit card payments every month. With no online e-commerce facility currently in place, all payments are managed over the phone. However during the pandemic, this created a challenge for the organisation with home-based staff manually pausing call recording to ensure no financial card data was captured.
“The security of our payments system became an urgent priority for us, to make sure that our home-based team were able to capture debit card information without risk. It was an area we were already exploring, however the restrictions governed by the virus made us prioritise this,” Darren Bass, Team Leader – Early Arrears Manager, explained.
“With staff having to manually hit ‘pause recording’ each time a payment was taken – and then remember to press resume once it had been processed – this manual system was open to errors. If this was forgotten, it then became another job for us to quickly go into the call archive, identify the call and delete the information as soon as possible.
“We also were reliant on our staff in handling payment data correctly, so disposing of any confidential information correctly or making sure they were not repeating the card information out aloud if people were in their vicinity. We needed a solution that would enable us to work remotely, yet comply to the PCI DSS.”
A secure solution
GC Business Finance use Puzzel’s omnichannel contact centre solution to manage their customer interactions. The solution has given them greater oversight of call volumes, average handling times and enquiry registrations. It can also be integrated with a wide variety of third-party solutions to meet specialised business needs. When approached for advice around secure payment solutions, Puzzel recommended integrating with its technology partner, PCI Pal.
PCI Pal’s Agent Assist solution seamlessly integrates with Puzzel’s cloud contact centre, enabling agents to take payments securely over the phone. After receiving a demo, GC Business Finance was happy it would resolve the compliance issue it was facing and gave Puzzel the go-ahead to proceed with the integration. It also contacted its payment card provider to commence the integration with PCI Pal.
In March, the pandemic then arrived in the UK. “I was away on holiday in March 2020 and the news came through of the national lockdown. I came back and was immediately working on getting our team equipped to work remotely – with laptops and all the set-up we needed,” Darren said.
“Enabling our team with the right hardware to continue working was a challenge at the outset, however the bigger risk to our organisation was compliance; while we could encourage our customers to pay via a bank transfer, as part of the Treating Customers Fairly charter we must offer choice. We therefore had to provide a secondary option, which was to enable payments to be handled over the phone. This greatly accelerated our need to get Agent Assist working for all staff – and Puzzel and PCI Pal met the challenge by getting everything in place so we were up and ready by early April.”
PCI Pal assigned a project manager to support the integration, roll-out and training for the Agent Assist solution. Darren praised her support during such a critical time. “PCI Pal’s Jenny is probably one of the best project managers I have ever worked with in my career. In any industry when you’re working on a critical project, the support you receive can be make or break. I was kept in the loop and was fully informed throughout – there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t know what was going on. Jenny was there to answer any questions and provided full transparency – I was pleasantly surprised by the way it was all managed,” he said.
Happy agents and customers
Having transitioned from a manual ‘pause and resume’ process, the contact centre team were quick to embrace the new way of working. Previously there was a lot of manual intervention needed by the team. Now, with the new way of working, they simply secure the line and the customer keys the debit card information using their telephone keypad. This is anonymous to the contact centre team, other than seeing asterisks populating the payment screen. The agents are able to remain on the call when this is happening and help customers through the process if needed.
“The great thing is there’s no information for our team to write down, read or record, and no information ever enters our system,” Darren said.
Reflecting on the success of the project, GC Business Finance is delighted with the results. And, the team has received a lot of praise internally on the successful roll-out of the payment security system.
“Before we embarked on reviewing our payment security, our compliance officer identified our original process as a risk to the business. By working with Puzzel and PCI Pal, we have however absolutely turned this around. Not only have we made sure we are operating compliantly with the requirements of PCI DSS, but we achieved this during a national lockdown. This is no mean feat,” Darren said.
Rob Wiles, Puzzel’s Partner Channel Director, said: “Puzzel is supported by a strong network of technology partners who share our passion for customer service and delivering smarter customer experiences. Through this network, our customers are able to enrich their contact centre solution with a wide variety of specialty apps that can help them meet their unique business needs. PCI Pal is one of the best solutions on the market for delivering fast and secure payments online and over the phone. We’re proud our partnership and seamless integration was able to help GC Business Finance overcome their compliance challenges during such a critical time.”
GC Business Finance had previously contemplated remote working, however the payment handling process was a concern. Thanks to working with Puzzel and PCI Pal, the organisation has the confidence that they are handling customer payments in a highly secure way. The team are delighted too – it’s removed the pressure of remembering to pause and resume, and the overall responsibility of handling this sensitive data.