4 Things You Must Have to Ensure Effective Voice Biometrics in a Contact Center

According to Opus Research reported that “we’re witnessing large-scale, customer-facing implementations of Voice Biometrics for authentication and fraud loss reduction.”

There is a good reason for this. It works.

A bank with over 20 million customers in 12 markets, for example, saw a 90% 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. Another major bank, with 5 million European customers and large credit card operations, also registered over 90% success using voiceprint-based authentication. The speed of its automated biometric authentication process led to savings of more than $1 million annually.

This frictionless, voice-based authentication is from 30 seconds to over a minute faster than any battery of security questions. This means an average handle time reduction of around 40 seconds per call, which translates into savings of about US$300,000 per month for a mid-size call center. Moreover, consumers consistently see biometric authentication as more secure than traditional methods.

Thus, voice biometrics-based real-time authentication is, as one financial industry executive put it, “a win-win, because the experience of the customer is seamless… with lower average handle time and greater efficiency.”

Voice biometrics delivers the value it promises. However, there are four measures needed to ensure its ongoing success as a method of caller authentication.

1. Multichannel Informed Customer Consent

Biometric authentication requires the consent of the customer in most jurisdictions. Companies may also decide to go above and beyond mandated disclosure requirements for the sake of customer trust and loyalty. But in any case, customer consent should be active, obtained via email, SMS, mobile app or any other push contact.

Consent rates can be increased by 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 your 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.

Once customers give their consent, both regulatory compliance and good business sense require ensuring the consent is saved across all relevant systems so that the customer won’t be asked again.

2. Passive Historical Enrollment

Customer enrollment, which entails creating a unique voiceprint, is one of the key challenges of deploying voice authentication systems. While enrollment can be implemented passively and seamlessly, customers have to actually call in for it to work. It can therefore take half a year, depending on the industry, just to enroll the “habitual” callers, about 10% of an average company’s customer base.

The key to dramatically expanding those numbers is using recordings of past customer interactions to create voiceprints for real-time authentication. Moreover, multiple recordings of the same user contribute to a robust voiceprint, which can be further enriched and improved when the customer eventually does call in.

With passive historical enrollment, the voiceprint database can grow by orders of magnitude within weeks, greatly reducing the biometrics time to value.

3. Secure Enrollment and Authentication

For real-time authentication with voice biometrics to be effective, a multilayered security process throughout enrollment is critical. This process, ensuring the right voiceprint is linked to the right person, includes:

  • Creation of a unique customer ID.
  • Only using calls that pass a certain level of authentication in passive enrollment.
  • Associating customer consent to voice biometrics authentication with the same customer ID.
  • Validation of new calls for consistency between the caller ID and the call voiceprint.
  • Cross-checking calls against a watch-list of known fraudsters.

With a verified voiceprint, it takes just a few seconds of conversation to positively authenticate a caller. If authentication fails, then the contact center agent handling the call should be instantly informed and challenge the caller with knowledge-based authentication questions. The authentication tool may also initiate automatic reporting of an attempted fraud or temporarily embargo a suspicious interaction.

4. A Centralized Management System

A centralized management system for recordings, consent, voiceprint creation and authentication can achieve the needed coherence, 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. Specifically, roll-out and ongoing management costs can be substantially reduced by leveraging an existing recording platform’s technology, driving down the total cost of ownership (TCO).

In addition, contact center ecosystems can be very dynamic. So, a real-time authentication solution should be system agnostic and flexible enough to respond to change at the speed of configuration (rather than that of software development).

Finally, a coherent 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.

For a fuller, article-length treatment of this issue, please see our article in the October edition of Biometric Technology Today. For more information on operationalizing voice biometrics, please visit the NICE Real-Time Authentication website.