(This article was originally featured in CUSTOMER magazine.)
Every consumer has one bad customer service experience. What is worse than picking up the phone and calling your local cable company about a service issue, only to get interrogated for the purpose of authenticating your identity? According to Opus Research, 85 percent of customers are dissatisfied with the authentication process. Additionally, three out of four customers fail the authentication process at least once and are falsely rejected, according to Customer Experience Report.
Aside from creating a negative customer experience from the outset of the call, the authentication process is costing the customer time and money, and can ultimately result in loss of business.
A new technology, voice biometrics, is the solving this problem by creating a faster and more efficient authentication process for the everyday customer. Voice biometrics is a technology used to identify a person based on the physical and behavioral characteristics of an individual’s voice. Similar to a fingerprint, a voice print is unique to each person. It can help customers avoid a long authentication process by identifying them within the natural flow of conversation with an agent or during an IVR call, where all the caller has to state is his or her name or phone number.
Opus Researc reported that “we’re witnessing large-scale, customer-facing implementations of voice biometrics for authentication and fraud loss reduction.” The reason for this is customers are looking for technology options to simplify their lives, not complicate them.
For example, a bank with more than 20 million customers in 12 markets saw a 90 percent success rate in customer verifications after adopting voice biometrics for its caller authentication process. The bank was so impressed that it scrapped its manual authentication system altogether. For many customer-facing industries, voice authentication is a win-win, because it improves the customer experience, reduces average handle times, and boosts efficiency – all without compromising on security.
But to successfully implement voice biometrics as a method of caller authentication, you need to consider the following four things.
Biometric authentication requires the consent of the customer in most jurisdictions. For companies, this can be obtained via email, SMS, mobile app, or any other push contact. Consent rates can be increased by a careful study of how to ask (which channel and what phrasing to use), when consent is most likely to be given, by whom, and how to advertise the new service.
Educating customers on the benefits and technology of real-time voice-biometrics authentication before the solution is rolled out will also improve customer experience and contribute to the total ROI. According to our recent research, more than 50 percent of consumers said they would definitely or likely join a voice biometrics service without any effort required from their end.
Customer enrollment (i.e. creating a unique voice print) is one of the critical challenges of deploying voice biometrics-based authentication systems. While enrollment can be implemented passively and seamlessly, customers have to actually call the contact center at some point for it to work. It can therefore take significant time just to enroll the habitual callers, depending on the industry.
The key to dramatically expanding those numbers is using recordings of past customer interactions to create voice prints for real-time authentication. Multiple recordings of the same user contribute to a robust voice print, which can be further enriched and improved when the customer eventually does call in. With passive historical enrollment, the voice print database can grow by orders of magnitude within weeks, greatly reducing the biometrics time to value.
Security Through Authentication
For voice biometrics-based authentication to be effective, a multilayered security process throughout enrollment is critical. This process includes several key steps:
With a verified voice print, authentication takes just a few seconds of conversation to positively confirm a caller (vs. the average of 30 to 45 seconds).
Control Center of the Future
A centralized management system for recordings, consent, voice print creation, and authentication can achieve the needed coherence for successful customer service. In addition, it helps companies save time and improve compliance for lower costs than a patchwork of independent solutions.
Similarly, contact centers that have already invested in the tools and expertise necessary for recording can deploy fewer servers, reduce IT administration overhead, and avoid the need for new tools and training when implementing voice biometrics. Lastly, a centralized system can best provide analytics on authentication metrics, so that customer and agent behaviors can be evaluated. This, in turn, can improve both customer satisfaction and call center operations.
Rotem Shemesh is product marketing manager at NICE Multi-Channel.