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How to kill the password

Passwords were never meant to be a form of securing information – just ask the guy who invented them! Hacks, data breaches, and fraud persist in the headlines, but we have yet to kick passwords to the curb. There has never been a better time – or a more urgent need – to say good riddance to this antiquated method of authentication for once and for all. The growing adoption of, and trust in, multiple biometric modalities such as voice, facial and behavioral biometrics shows that there is a smarter – and safer – path forward.

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Expanding self-service in the IVR is a key trend forward-thinking companies should consider in 2017.

I recently read with great interest a report published by Forrester Research on the topic of biometric authentication with the following subhead: “Adoption of User And Mobile-Friendly Biometrics Will Kill The Password.” It’s not commonplace to find such strong and direct language used in a business context, but in the authentication space it is not surprising. This strong language is justified for two key reasons. First, the harm that passwords cause is ever-increasing and clearly unsustainable. There is an urgent need to move away from this authentication modality, as time and again passwords have proven to be one of the worst, and least convenient methods of security. Second, the availability of several proven biometric modalities that are at once user-friendly and secure enables enterprises to finally eliminate passwords from their security toolbox.

The financial, reputational and emotional harm caused by password-, PIN- and security question-based security are astronomical in scale. Simply stating that billions of dollars are lost every year seems to underscore the depth of the problem. Consumers suffer on a personal level when they are victims of fraud and this often leads to a loss in trust with the brands with which the fraud occurs. Case in point, I was a victim of fraud a few months ago. A fraudster compromised my digital account credentials (user name and password) that I used with a credit card issuer. The fraudster then proceeded to add the credit card to their Apple Pay account, and performed a series of fraudulent transactions. Needless to say, I have ceased doing business with this bank.

The financial rewards for organizations that eliminate passwords, PINs and security questions are equally material, and surpass stemming fraud losses. I myself have moved my chequing account, credit card, savings account and retirement savings account to a financial institution that secures their mobile application with voice biometrics, and uses the same technology to secure their contact center as well. According to Forrester: “Voice is a great fit for mobile app, web, and phone channels…” for a number of reasons, notably the friction-free experience and the high level of security that voice biometrics offers not only over knowledge-based authentication but also over other biometric modalities. The financial institution that I now deal with not only reduced their fraud losses, but has gained new customers and strengthened the loyalty of its existing customers.

The benefits of eliminating passwords are not exclusive to the financial industry. Telecom providers, e-commerce retailers and even citizen-facing government agencies have a great interest in implementing biometrics.

  • In the e-commerce space, Forrester recently quoted during a webinar that 37.4% of all shopping cart abandonment occurs at login. Eliminating the need for a user name and password can translate into transformative financial gains in the form of greater conversion rates.
  • On the government front, the Australian Tax Office recently shared that the use of voice biometrics, as a replacement for knowledge-based authentication, within their mobile app and contact center was meant to drive increased tax compliance by facilitating the interaction between citizen and agency. Imagine that – citizens are more likely to pay their taxes if you eliminate that archaic, insecure and high-friction based authentication mechanism known as the password.
  • A UK-based telecom provider recently shared that they experienced a significant drop in customer churn and a material increase in sales conversion when they switched from knowledge-based authentication to voice biometrics.

Clearly voice biometrics is not the only biometric modality available, nor the only one that should be deployed by organizations wishing to eliminate the password. A study conducted last year by Interaction Experience showcased that consumers are almost evenly split in their preference for authentication methods when offered the choice of fingerprint, facial recognition and voice biometrics. Their preference for one modality over the other was also influenced by the context they were in. For example, when driving or otherwise on the move, voice biometrics was clearly preferred. Whereas in a social context where speaking was not appropriate, fingerprint or face was preferred. Only 5% of the study participants selected password as their preferred mode of authentication, showcasing the strong consumer desire to move away from passwords. Forrester identified fingerprint, face and voice as the biometric modalities that deliver the highest business value and lead to the highest consumer adoption. Other biometrics show promise, including behavioral biometrics which tracks the interactions of a user and their device to continuously authenticate a user throughout a web or mobile app session, helping to prevent fraud.

I’m a strong believer that providing a choice to consumers in the biometric credentials that they can use to login to a service, such as fingerprint, face and voice biometrics, creates the winning solution to eliminate once and forever passwords, PINs and security questions. In fact, this is the formula that enterprises need to follow if they want to displace passwords and solve for the problems that passwords create. Beyond displacing passwords, these biometric modalities can be complemented by innovative continuous authentication methods such as behavioural biometrics to further secure digital experiences and thwart even the most ingenious fraudsters.

Forrester provides some great tips on how to go about moving away from passwords to biometrics. I highly recommend the read.

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Learn how to improve the customer experience in government services.
The necessity of reliable government customer service
Providing exceptional service the public can count on
Voice biometrics are on the rise, so learn about this technology and why it matters for both businesses and consumers.
Infographic: The 411 on voice biometrics
The new wave of authentication
Companies need to meet customers where they are: which is on mobile devices and reading notifications.
Reminders matter: Better customer engagement and business results using proactive notifications
What was that again? Changing expectations for customer service
By solving customer issues on the first attempt, businesses can improve the call center experience and reduce costs.
Unlocking the code to first call resolution
Solving customer issues the first time around
We celebrate all kinds of decisions countries make on behalf of their citizens – to stay or go, or start a revolution – but companies should be evaluating and constantly making decisions that better their customer service as well.
Celebrating change: Is it time to revolutionize your call center?
Break free from outdated IVR solutions
IVR is the bread and butter of customer service, so make sure you’re doing more with it than using it as a staple service.
IVR is the bread and butter of customer service
Three tips to increasing the performance of your IVR
Though multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel are often used interchangeably, learn the differences in order to craft a clearer customer experience.
Cross-channel, multi-channel, omni-channel: What’s the difference?
Demystify the jargon to craft a clear customer experience
By learning from customer service leaders, companies can facilitate more effective customer communications.
We’ll let you in on a secret: The keys to becoming a customer service leader
Insights on how leaders approach customer communications
Companies should pay attention to call center metrics year-round, not just when they are up for a rating.
The six call center metrics that really matter
Smash your goals by focusing on these six metrics
You don’t have to be a magician to increase customer satisfaction while decreasing costs, trying to meet and measure three key IVR KPIs.
Mastering the magic of IVR metrics
Learn to optimize three classic IVR KPIs
With high call volume and increasing customer expectations, companies must ensure their technology solutions meet customer needs.
The secrets of a successful IVR deployment
How one leading electronics retailer met customer needs head-on
Recently Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac published new guidelines encouraging their servicers to use lower cost-digital channels for borrower outreach.
Winning the fight against the high cost of mortgage servicing
Embrace digital communication channels to reach borrowers
Great customer experiences drive positive business results.
Success, effort, emotion. Oh my!
Great customer experiences drive positive business results
St. Patricks’ Day always brings talk of luck and chance. But are too many companies relying on luck when it comes to satisfying customers with service experiences?
Great customer service experiences don’t rely on luck
Three self-service strategies that pay off in customer loyalty
Turn your IVR into a movie star with a full-bodied experience, beyond just voice talent.
How to make your IVR a movie star: Embrace the customer experience genre and pick a persona
Kate & Leopold. Sleepless in Seattle. When Harry Met Sally. Which one is your IVR?
healthcare-industry-embraces-innovation-speed-in-year-of-the-monkey
Part 1: Applying 5 health consumer engagement trends in the Year of the Monkey
How the healthcare industry will embrace innovation and speed this year
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