Speech Technology Magazine

 

Using Voice Biometrics to Improve Customer Experience

Customer experience is at the heart of every brand, but one of the most frustrating experiences for customers often comes when they're contacting you. Voice biometrics may be able to help streamline and improve their experience.
By Kornel Laskowski - Posted Jan 16, 2019
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Imagine if your customers could quickly get the information or services that are personalized to their needs without having to jump through all the hoops required for customer verification. Think how that could enhance customer experience, encourage loyalty and, ultimately, help retain customers. Voice biometrics can help make this happen by enabling a company to identify a specific caller based on his/her voice. It can also help marketers gather additional customer intelligence and conduct more targeted marketing activities.

It’s understandable that customers can be upset with the amount of time it takes—and information they have to share—in order to verify their identity, especially when they just want to get a simple question answered. By using voice to identify a caller, voice biometrics reduces the time a customer needs to spend on the call and potentially eliminates the hassle of having to remember complex and frequently changing passwords. It also saves time for contact center staff, increasing their productivity.

Also, importantly, since personally identifiable information (PII) can be easily compromised, voice biometrics provides an additional layer of security. In addition to identifying specific individuals, call centers can use biometrics to blacklist calls from known criminals.

Voice biometrics verification can be invisible to the customer, depending on the approach used: active or passive. Active authentication requires the customer to say a specific passphrase during an authentication phase. Passive verification, on the other hand, runs continuously in the background and can verify a person’s identity using hundreds of voice features which are independent of what he/she says.

Identifying Behaviors to Enhance Customer Service

It can be a challenge for contact centers to know the identity of individuals since they can make calls from multiple mobile devices, landlines, or notebooks. Voice biometrics solves this problem by relying on voice characteristics, not device or telephone network characteristics.

Voice biometrics enhances other, seemingly unrelated speech processing technologies by enabling them to leverage learned speaker-specific behaviors. For example, some speakers raise their voice when angry, while others do so when very happy. Knowing who the speakers are, and how they’ve behaved in the past, can provide more accurate estimates of emotion and sentiment in a new interaction. Such estimates— when accurate—provide contact centers with key information about a customer’s frame of mind, allowing them to react more appropriately in real-time conversations, and to gain a better understanding of the causes of specific behaviors in post-call analysis. Voice biometrics can improve estimates by providing a way to select the correct set of learned speaker-specific behaviors on a call-by-call basis.

Voice Biometrics is at the Heart of Personalization and 1:1 Marketing

Based on an individual voice print, an organization can construct a speaker profile by correlating information collected from previous interactions. Call center agents can quickly pull the individual’s profile from the speaker profile database during a call.

This offers many advantages. It enables companies to contextualize the current call historically, based on the reasons for previous calls as well as their outcomes. It also permits companies to automatically augment a caller-specific profile that contains the complete history of the customer’s contact center interactions. Such profiles can have a considerable impact on the appropriateness of the products or services that companies market to individuals, enabling them to make recommendations based on those individuals’ interests.

Voice biometrics can be used to enhance customer service and marketing initiatives in many ways. Here are just a few:

  • Predicting Behavior—By being able to identify the speaker on a call, and access the speaker’s profile, agents gain insight into specific words that might pique the customer’s interest or trigger a negative response. Therefore, they can tailor their responses accordingly and improve customer communication.
  • Offering VIP Service—Contact centers can use the knowledge of a caller’s identity to offer a better customer experience for selected customers. For example, they can connect their most valuable customers—as identified by voice—with personalized customer support instead of having them communicate with chatbots, which many people find frustrating.
  • Improving Outbound marketing Outcomes—Knowing whom you are speaking with can improve your success in conducting surveys and other outbound marketing activities. If marketers know that the individual who answers the call was more interested in certain offers or less willing to participate in a survey than someone else in the household, they could adjust their pitch to improve the outcome.
  • Providing Better Customer Service in Healthcare—The ability to identify a person at the beginning of a call would be very useful to pharmacies, medical facilities, and doctors’ offices. Based on the information in the speaker’s profile, healthcare professionals can retrieve the patient’s records and act accordingly. For example, the pharmacy or healthcare provider can check to see if patients are taking their medicine properly, or direct their calls to the top of the queue if they have serious conditions.

Improving customer service does more than just enhance the customer experience, it is critical to the bottom line. According to Accenture’s Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement study, poor customer service can cause more than 50% of consumers to leave a company, a very costly problem. By streamlining the verification process involved in customer service calls, improving the accuracy of that process, exploiting speaker-specific behaviors in analytics and growing speaker profiles for use in future calls, companies can up their game in customer service. And that, in turn, can personalize the customer experience, improve retention and boost profitability—a winning approach all the way around.

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