Workforce Optimization Featured Article

Voice Authentication Technology Reduces Demands on the Contact Center

March 14, 2017


Like most business functions, the contact center counts its biggest expense in the form of labor. Staffing a customer support center sufficiently so customers aren’t kept waiting (and encountering a harried, overworked agent when they do connect) gets expensive. Overstaffing is a waste of money, and can lead to bored agents playing Spider Solitaire on the company’s dime. Companies use workforce optimization as a way of ensuring the right number of agents are available at the right time, performing the right work. Other technologies are brought in to try and reduce the number of calls that ring in the contact center.

Self-service, of course, has always been considered a way of (theoretically) reducing the number of live calls coming into the contact center. Traditionally, the interactive voice response solution (IVR) was put in place with the hopes that customers would be able to resolve their own simple problems, such as balance check, billing dates, requests for tax forms and password resets. The problem is that traditional, old-fashioned IVR isn’t very effective, particularly when it comes to ensuring that customers are who they say they are.

Fraud is on the rise in the contact center. Hackers understand that contact centers control a treasure-trove of personal customer information, and they regularly call to pose as customers to “phish” for the data they require to take over a customer’s account or drain money out of it. As a result, contact centers are having to step up customer authentication, and old-fashioned IVRs simply can’t cope. Enter voice authentication, which can “bioprint” customers’ voices, eliminating the need for agents to quiz customers about their mother’s maiden name and the name of their first pet, according to a recent blog post by NICE’s Efrat Kanner-Nissimov.

“Using voice biometrics to verify callers' identity provides a higher level of security than other authentication methods,” wrote Kanner-Nissimov. “By applying this technology to the IVR channel, organization can shift more call and transaction types to the IVR since they can be completed there, as it is no longer necessary for a live agent to begin questioning the caller in order to authenticate them. And, when customers don't need to remember a password or a pin, they are more likely to complete their activity without escalating to an agent.”

Some voice authentication solutions, however, create inconveniences of their own for customers. In order to enroll in using the service, customers must spend a few minutes repeating phrases until the solution has created a voice print. According to Kanner-Nissimov, there are ways around this need today. NICE has created a process called “passive enrollment” that creates voice prints for authentication across channels. NICE’s voice authentication feature uses the same voiceprint -- created seamlessly based on live agent calls or based on historical recordings -- for voice authentication on ALL voice channels: live agent calls, IVR, mobile, and any other self-service channels. The result is an easy and convenient way for customers to reap the benefits of voice authentication without having to undergo the hassle of traditional solutions. 



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