If I had to choose a single message that reverberated loud and clear at the Voice Biometrics Conference in San Francisco, it would be that financial institutions have derived significant and tangible benefits from the use of voice biometrics. This message was keenly delivered by Matt Smallman from Barclays Wealth. In his keynote presentation, Matt revealed that a voice biometrics solution sourced from Nuance enabled the British financial institution to significantly impact customer sat scores within their call center while simultaneously reducing operating costs. Similar success was echoed by Advait Deshpande from Vanguard, a top investment firm in the United States.
My favorite moment at the conference was when Matt Smallman shared a touching story that brought the topic of voice biometrics out of the realm of technology. Instead, the story revealed how voice biometrics is impacting individuals in their day-to-day lives. Matt shared how during one of his recent visits to one of Barclays Wealth call centers, an agent approached him and stated that “Voice Biometrics has changed my life”. The agent then explained that she now has the opportunity to establish an emotional connection with the customer, which was not possible when the call started with an interrogation process.
This was the third Voice Biometric Conference organized by the great folks at Opus Research that I have had the pleasure of participating in. It was the first, however, where attendees had the opportunity to hear directly from several representatives of organizations that deployed and benefitted greatly from this innovative technology. How refreshing it was to hear from organizations that use voice biometrics on a daily basis to deliver a stellar customer experience!
What was clear to anyone that mingled during the breaks and networking sessions, was that financial institutions were present in full force not only on the stage, but also in the crowd. I personally counted eight attendees from a single US FI. By my count, there were approximately a dozen separate FIs represented at the event. This speaks volumes to how voice biometrics has evolved from a curiosity only a few years ago to a strategic technology for the financial services sector. Discussing with attendees, it became apparent that the question most were asking was not if they should deploy voice biometrics, but rather where and how. Although the presentations clearly showed that there are clear benefits realized when deploying voice biometrics in the call center, discussions by attendees were just as focused on the use of voice biometrics within a SmartPhone app.
Beyond the strong participation by financial institutions, I also spotted representatives from several of the largest telecom services providers in the United States. After all, some of the largest voice biometric deployments in the world today are with telecom providers in Europe such as Vodafone and Turkcell. T-Mobile is also investing in voice biometrics, with publically announced deployments in Poland and Hungary. I would not be surprised if at next year’s VBC event, the keynote is delivered by one of these top telecom providers, and if the use case was for authentication within a smartphone app!
Be sure to also read the following article written by Rachael King from The Wall Street Journal, who also attended the conference: Banks Eye Voice Biometrics to Verify Customers (The Wall Street Journal – CIO Journal – May 9, 2013)
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