Sparkcentral, provider of a customer engagement platform, today released Secure Authentication, a tool that allows organizations to safely acquire confidential customer information on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Sophie Vu, vice president of marketing at Sparkcentral, the product will lead to quicker resolution times while making it more convenient for customers to complete queries within the channel of their choice.
Geared primarily toward customer service organizations, Sparkcentral's engagement platform aims to connect the most suitable agents to customers while ensuring that they have easy access to the information they need to promptly resolve issues as they arise. The platform compiles conversation and collaboration notes collected at various touch points and offers them up to agents so they can conduct more relevant conversations.
The goal of Secure Authentication—which can be purchased as a stand-alone product or as an extension of the customer engagement platform—is to keep interactions that were initiated on social media grounded in their channel of origin. Historically, doing so has been a challenge, because such platforms were not designed to adequately safeguard messages from the threat of hackers, Vu says. For this reason, companies who have to meet compliance and data security requirements have had trouble collecting sensitive information—such as private billing materials and social security numbers—that they need to assist customers. As an alternative, they have been forced to redirect people to other channels like email or telephone, often resulting in abandoned interactions. Using Secure Authentication, service reps can insert a link into a message, which prompts customers to confirm their identity by answering a series of questions.
The user interface can also be customized to align with the brand's image and authentication requirements, Vu adds.
For Sparkcentral, the announcement aligns with its goal of reducing "channel hopping." Just last month, the company introduced a solution to enable service agents to assist customers within apps.
"An increasing number of customers use channels like Twitter to connect with brands during moments of need," notes Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas—yet, she adds, companies struggle to address those inquiries. Such a product "could solve for a gap that prevents many brands from delivering a safe, streamlined, consistent, and non-disruptive experience today," she says.
While there was an initial fear that the solution might be met with skepticism by wary customers—those being asked to share their private information on social media—they have widely embraced it, Vu says. Since it has adopted the solution, T-Mobile has been able to authenticate 30,000 customers.
According to Meg Christolini, head of product at Sparkcentral, companies in other industries have begun to express interest as well. "We get requests for this kind of functionality left and right—from financial services and telcos to airlines and retailers," Christolini says.
“I'm looking forward to hearing how customers improve both their internal and external experiences," Forrester's Liousas adds. "Particularly those within financial services."