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Voice, Device Biometrics Key to Improving Call Center Security, Overall Experience

Even in the digital age, the phone is the key conduit for interactions between customers and corporations.

Amit Gupta, vice president of authentication at Pindrop, told PYMNTS that in a world where 70% of adults still stick with the phone to contact customer service representatives, both the process and security pain points can be improved.

In fact, consumer concerns related to customer service — and specifically, authentication — include being kept on hold too long (48%) and having to repeat the identification process (46%). Gupta said contact centers, marked by increased call volumes, need to streamline their authentication efforts.

As organizations traditionally focused on improving security on digital channels, phone channel continued to see fraudsters trying to social engineer contact center agents. With several advancements in security technology, Pindrop’s enterprise clients are now enabled to “fortify the perimeter,” even on phone channels.

See also: Biometrics Brush Aside Passwords, Bring Curtain Down on ‘Security Theater’

The Main Points of Friction

Gupta noted that many firms are still using knowledge-based questions for authentication and facilitating high-risk transactions. A significant number of firms are still using one-time passcodes.

“If you look at these authentication mechanisms, they’re full of friction,” Gupta said.

Oftentimes, those mechanisms don’t even provide an adequate defense against fraud. To get a sense of how ineffective they are, he said, consider that about 60% of the time, fraudsters can bypass knowledge-based authentication — and they’re successful about 50% of the time when SIM card fraud is in the works.

To build an effective line of defense at the contact center itself, Gupta said it’s imperative to leverage the attributes that are inherent in the audio that is coming into the call itself — chiefly, through the customer’s voice.

“These aspects can be used in the IVR [interactive voice response] and during the interaction with the agent to start authenticating in more passive fashion, without the friction,” he said.

Platforms such as Pindrop’s make that authentication possible. He noted that the voice, a natural identifier, is not easily spoofed. Combine that verification via voice with device and behavior match, and the lines of defense are fortified while providing the best user experience to the caller.

That level of friction-free security can also sidestep one of the most frustrating parts of multichannel interaction — namely, reverifying a slew of details over and over while moving from automated options to direct conversations with agents.

Authentication in the Background

Authentication in the background, he said, transforms the experience, driven in part by voice biometrics.

“Instead of asking them and interrogating customers about their names, address, zip code and other things,” Gupta said, “ask them, ‘How can I help you?’”

Enterprises leveraging enhanced authentication via these platforms can save the time that would have otherwise been spent authenticating users, focusing instead on delivering value-added services.

Related: The Perils Of “One-Size-Fits-All” Authentication

Not only does this time saving improve the caller’s experience, but it also provides cost optimization while enabling high authentication confidence within IVR itself — so high-risk transactions can be offered within the IVR and improve self-service for users.

Gupta said in the traditional call flow — for example, when someone dials into a bank to transfer funds between accounts — the IVR would take them through several steps, answering several questions along the way. However, the customer would then have to re-answer those questions once they are in the “direct contact” channel with an agent (who will also ask for account numbers, PINs, etc.).

In an idealized, streamlined interaction, a natural-language-enabled IVR addresses the call. First, as the call comes into the contact center — even before the call lands in the IVR — the technology is there to confirm that the caller ID is not spoofed and fraud risk is low.

Then, the biometric components match the caller’s identity and voice. If there isn’t a match, then additional layers of verification would be needed. There’s also significant IVR containment improvement — double-digit increases in many cases.

“Our customers give us feedback that they have saved over a minute in hold times, on average, after they started using this passive authentication technology,” Gupta said. “They have also said that they were able to process almost 14% more calls without adding a single additional contact center agent.”

One side note, per Gupta: Even the contact center staffers do not like having to ask those questions, and so they’re relieved to have the burdens of authentication taken off their lists.

“They just can start servicing the call based on the conversation that’s begun in the IVR channel,” he told PYMNTS.

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