Voice Biometrics Can Protect Against Fraud—and Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Voice biometrics is one of the more underappreciated applications, and with good reason: In the 20 years of its existence, it has been considered expensive, difficult to use, and disliked and distrusted by the consumers who are its target audience. Despite its strong benefits, which include its proven ability to significantly reduce fraud risk and to improve and simplify the verification process, voice biometrics has been passed over by companies for years. Many companies appreciate its benefits, but until recently, they decided it wasn’t worth the effort and cost. But this is changing; massive fraud losses, accompanied by the decreasing cost of computing, are encouraging mostly large companies in financial services and telecommunications—two industries with a high incidence of fraud—to invest in these solutions. This growing interest is prompting the providers of voice biometrics technology to make investments to improve system usability and enhance the solutions’ features.
An Expanding Range of Uses
The two primary drivers for voice biometrics have been preventing fraud and reducing agent head count. But in the past couple of years, the uses have expanded beyond the contact center market to include mobile applications, interactive voice response (IVR), and the web. As voice printing is the most secure form of verification and authentication, the potential opportunities for this technology are expected to grow as the implementation process is simplified and pricing becomes more acceptable to companies of all sizes. Here are the uses for which companies should consider deploying voice biometrics:
1. IVR voice authentication. Voice biometrics can be used as a security measure to prevent unauthorized access to an IVR. Password security is a major weakness for many institutions. All too often, fraudsters are successful in obtaining customer information from an IVR that they then use for illegal purposes.
2. Contact center authentication. This has been a primary use of voice biometrics since the beginning: to reduce agents’ average handle time by eliminating the 10 to 90 seconds that it takes to verify a caller. Today, it continues to serve this function and improves customer satisfaction by eliminating the time-consuming (and often annoying) verification process. At the same time, it gives callers a sense of security to know that personal information is protected by security features based on their unique voice characteristics.
3. Mobile authentication. With millions of apps available, the risk of fraud loss grows by the day. While most apps do not provide access to sensitive personal information, many banking, insurance, telecom, and other apps are designed to do exactly that. Since many consumers do not have strong security protection on their phones, these apps represent a major risk for companies and their customers. Using voice biometrics for app verification is a highly effective means of reducing fraud.
4. Web verification. The use of web sites and self-service applications continues to pick up momentum, particularly now that enterprises are building sites designed to make it easy for their users to interact online. Voice biometrics greatly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, giving users a much greater sense of security when doing business on the web.
Easier Said Than Done
Though its time has come, voice biometrics is not simple to implement. Legislation restricting its use exists in certain states, and many countries also have laws limiting the ways it can be used. However, in most countries, including the United States, once a company obtains permission from a customer to use his voice print, its legal obligations are met. Since this step is necessary to begin the process in most voice biometrics solutions, the laws are actually less burdensome than they appear, but they must still be taken into consideration when introducing this technology.
Voice biometrics solutions have great uses and benefits for the companies that can afford to invest in them. While recent innovations are starting to simplify the implementation process, companies that are considering voice biometrics need to begin by addressing legal and regulatory compliance requirements and then move on to build plans for rolling out the solution. The benefits and payback will be great for companies with deep pockets and patience; depending on how a solution is used, voice biometrics can help increase customer retention and satisfaction, improve security and reduce the risk of fraud, and improve staff productivity.
Donna Fluss (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center, analytics, and back-office market research and consulting.