Speech Technology Magazine

Implementation Award: Vodafone Turkey

By Kathleen Savino - Posted Jul 1, 2010
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Customer: Vodafone Turkey

Vendor: PerSay

Product: VocalPassword

Customer security is a concern for every company, and being able to identify customers with complete accuracy when personal information is involved is crucial. But achieving that goal can be time-consuming and, as the saying goes, time is money. And as anyone in the speech industry knows, time also can make for a very unhappy customer.

This was Vodafone Turkey’s dilemma. With an active subscriber base of 16 million residential and business customers—approximately 25 percent of the entire Turkish market—the Euroasian country’s second largest mobile phone carrier was facing a serious challenge regarding its customer authentication process. The company receives 9 million calls a year, and an internal study mapping all contact center interactions found that 30 percent of those calls required agents to validate a customer’s identity. However, since Vodafone customers were calling for multiple reasons—personal unlocking key (PUK) resets, billing inquiries, and plan changes—customers needing verification spent an extra 52 seconds with an agent and had to endure multiple authentication questions before proceeding with their business at hand.

To change that and speed callers through the process, Vodafone in mid-2009 rolled out its Voice Identification System powered by PerSay’s VocalPassword solution, an automated biometric speaker verification system. The primary driver for Vodafone Turkey in implementing the voice verification system was to provide customers with a better experience while safeguarding their privacy. In fact, Vodafone Turkey was the first telecommunications company in that country to implement voice biometrics. With the help of Turkish speech solutions provider and integrator SpeechHouse, it was able to integrate the new offering into its existing Avaya Voice Portal. “We are proud to be a pioneer in introducing this exciting and challenging technology to the Turkish market,” said Tarkan Ersubasi, SpeechHouse’s CEO, in a statement. “This first and challenging project marks the cornerstone for the voice biometrics market. We look forward to the successful completion of this ground-breaking project, improving cost reduction, and enhancing security and the customer experience for the benefit of Turkey’s customers.”

Using the new, voluntary service, Vodafone Turkey customers no longer have to remember multiple PINs and passwords or undergo a cumbersome and costly manual authentication process. Vodafone was able to verify 3.2 million calls with the solution.

Customers calling into the company’s interactive voice response (IVR) system are now identified first by caller ID, and if caller ID is not available, they are asked to enter their phone number via touchtone input. They then speak a pre-established passphrase, which is compared to a stored voiceprint, to verify their identities. The solution can distinguish between multiple users on the same account.

The Voice Identification System has helped Vodafone cut nearly half a million dollars in costs and provide better customer service. Thanks to PerSay's implementation, average call handling time has been slashed by 24 seconds to three-and-a-half minutes. Handling time on calls that require customer verification was cut by a total of 52 seconds to just slightly less than three minutes (173.3 seconds), according to Almog Aley-Raz, CEO and cofounder of PerSay, which is based in Israel. 

Additionally, other metrics weighed, such as customer and agent satisfaction, showed significant improvements. Business processes were cut by 40 percent. This percentage specifically refers to “the call-handing time reduction coupled with automation of some processes,” such as PUK reset, according to Aley-Raz. Overall customer satisfaction with the new system stands at more than 85 percent, and employee satisfaction rose to more than 97 percent. Perhaps most important, the company doesn’t have to compromise on customer security—a main concern given the prevalence of cell phone spoofing.

“The outcome of the project exceeded all expectations,” Aley-Raz says.

THE RESULTS

  • A decrease in average call handling of 24 seconds, and a decrease in handling time for calls requiring customer verification of 52 seconds;
  • Nearly half a million dollars in cost savings;
  • Customer satisfaction ratings of more than 85 percent; and
  • Employee satisfaction ratings of more than 97 percent. 

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