The end of frustrating telephone verification processes are in sight, as new voice recognition technologies have matured sufficiently to be used widely by call centres in confirming the identity of customers on the phone.
Consumers may soon be able to forget their mother’s maiden name or the place of their birth, as voice recognition technologies are set to replace the endless list of security questions asked by call centre operators to confirm their customers’ identities.
Mr Amit Desai, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing at Verint Systems, says this is great news for many players in the customer service industry. “We can now prevent fraud before it happens, by recognising chancers when they start speaking on the phone. And consumers can look forward to not having to play Twenty Questions so an operator can confirm their identity,” he explained.
Identity theft costs South Africa’s economy an estimated R1 billion every year. Australia already widely uses voice recognition in government processes.
Rising fraud and identity theft
Desai says fraudsters are targeting anything from banking to mobile phone accounts, using sophisticated methods when it comes to stealing identities and turning a profit. According to TransUnion, 19 people in the UK fall victim to fraud every minute.
Just recently, Financial Fraud Action UK found that the cost of telephone banking fraud rose 95% to more than R300 million in the first half of 2015, compared with the same period of the year before.
The challenge is, says Desai, that the contact centre remains both a key focal point of vulnerability and a vital engine of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Some industries, particularly those that hold sensitive customer information such as the banking sector, have seized the opportunity and are widely adopting fraud detection applications to prevent fraud.
“The business benefits of having a robust cyber security system in place are obvious.
“But they have not yet realised the full potential of the available tech to improve their customers’ experience with their companies. The uptake of voice recognition technologies is therefore currently weighted away from customer service,” adds Desai.
The reason comes partially down to business priorities due to the obvious financial implications of a fraudulent incident. Many institutions feel that, though the business case of cutting down contact times and improving customer experience is desirable, security is a more essential business priority.
But evidence suggests that customers are more trusting of those organisations that are taking the steps to ensure their customer data is kept safe.
“This means there is a clear intersection between customer satisfaction and security.
“It is time for organisations across the private and public sectors to recognise that typed passwords – and the dizzying array of security questions that act as failsafes – are reaching the end of their useful lives.
“Voice biometrics has reached a level of maturity and sophistication that the technology can provide a fast, painless, and highly effective form of authentication – one that will help engage customers, as well as protecting them.”
Consumers want more than security
Recent research found that South African consumers are more likely to remain loyal to a company that can deal with a request quickly, with 55% saying this actually makes them stay. If consultants on the phone can resolve issues without consulting a manager, 42% would not remove their patronage.
Four in five (79%) South African adults are likely to tell friends and family if they receive good customer service, 49% will leave a positive review and 46% will renew or upgrade products and services even if it wasn’t the cheapest option.
“When it comes to providing a positive and memorable experience, consumers value speed and convenience above all else,” Desai adds.
He says good service and positive experiences make customers stay – in this case, the ability to quickly and easily access call centre services, without being submitted to endless questioning.
“Executives therefore need to strike a very difficult balance – between engendering customer loyalty on the one hand, and guaranteeing the security of their data on the other.
“In the end, the answer is definitely not more security measures; instead, organisations need to make better use of existing touchpoints to make security smarter.”
How voice identification solves the fraud problem
The human voice is a uniquely powerful identifier, explains Desai.
“Though it is not secret, like a password, it is truly unique to each individual and almost impossible to forge,” says Desai.
He adds that significant advances in voice biometrics have drastically increased the accuracy of analysing and identifying voice signatures in real time, slashing call times and saving businesses tens of millions in eliminated fraud losses.
In addition, the introduction of a dual approach to voice authentication has helped streamline and strengthen these systems.
On the one hand, the customer authentication application holds voiceprints for each customer, analysing the current caller against their previous voice signatures. The accuracy of this method is high.
Sophisticated systems will continue to build on their original voiceprints for each customer, creating an increasingly diverse database of voice samples that allows quick authentication when the right customer calls.
Secondly, a fraud detection application stores a database of voices of known fraudsters. This way, criminals can be recognised on the phone before they’ve had a chance to act, even if they are able to provide the right password and answer all the security questions.
“These technologies are virtually unspoofable. The voice is essentially a vocal fingerprint; it’s incredibly difficult for a fraudster to fake a customer’s voice well enough to fool the authentication tools.”
Your voice never changes
Desai said there is a common misconception that the changes people ordinarily perceive in their own voices when they are ill or when they age; mean that voice recognition software cannot be accurate.
“This is not the case. When we as human beings hear a voice, we hear accent, tone, words and emotion. Voice biometric technology picks up much more minute nuances in the individual’s throat, larynx, mouth and nose, to form a digital voiceprint.
“Though these voiceprints are liable to variations – much like our written signatures – the underlying characteristics are less prone to change. It is these underlying features that voice biometrics is designed to detect.”
Voiceprints are therefore truly unique, even in identical twins.
Moreover, the new generation of voice biometrics operates passively and recognises a caller’s voice without requiring them to speak a passphrase, and can distinguish between the voice and background noise.
Behind the scenes: Verint® is a global leader in Actionable Intelligence®, which has become a necessity in a dynamic world of massive information growth. By empowering organisations with crucial insights, Verint solutions enable decision makers to anticipate, respond and take action, and make more informed, effective and timely decisions.
Learn more at www.verint.com