In early 2011, Nuance predicted that within three years, our voice biometrics customers would have more than 20 million registered voiceprints. Turns out that we underestimated demand by a wide margin: One year later, our customers have already passed the 20 million mark.

Voice biometrics wouldn’t be that popular with Nuance customers and their customers if it didn’t work – and work well. Yet skepticism abounds, so let’s look at five common misconceptions about voice biometrics’ effectiveness that are unfounded.

1. Voice biometrics doesn’t work when a caller has a cold. This misconception is the most common one, and many CIOs, contact center managers and other people consider it a show-stopper. But numbers prove otherwise. For example, Nuance’s VocalPassword solution has delivered successful authentication rates within customer facing IVRs in the 97% range. On average, a person with a cold tends to experience an error rate that is about double the average. As such, a person with a cold has a 94% chance of getting successfully authenticated, that’s significantly better than the 40% to 60% success rate customers typically experience with a PIN. The high success rate for people that have a cold is made possible by Nuance’s approach of analyzing more than 100 aspects of each caller’s voice, and a cold affects only a handful of those.

2. Voice biometrics doesn’t work well when the caller uses a mobile phone. This is a legitimate concern because up to 80 percent of contact center calls originate from a cell phone. It’s also an unfounded concern because real-world deployments show that there is no performance difference between a person using a cell phone or a landline. The authentication success rate does drop somewhat in cases where a caller enrolls in one channel, for example a cell phone, and then verifies using another, for example a landline. However, the success rate is marginally affected, less so than when a person has a cold.

3. Voice biometrics requires users to go through an enrollment process. This misconception is most common among organizations that cater to “platinum-type” users, such as consumers with $5 million brokerage accounts and business travelers with 1 million miles. These organizations are reluctant to make high-value customers go through any kind of enrollment, even when it takes less than 30 seconds.

The good news is that a formal enrollment isn’t necessary when the voice biometrics platform uses passive authentication. With passive authentication, the enrollment occurs in the background: While the caller interacts with a live agent for the first time, the platform silently collects enough information to create a voiceprint that’s used for future calls. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

4. Voice biometrics still needs to prove itself in the real world. Our customers’ 20 million-plus voiceprints are one example of how voice biometrics already is proving itself in the real world. Nuance has had voice biometrics solutions in commercial service for more than a decade, and more than 250 organizations – including many of the world’s largest financial institutions – currently use our voice biometrics products. That’s not bragging. It just shows how voice biometrics has proven its effectiveness time and again.

Another proof point is success stories such as Turkcell, Turkey’s largest mobile operator. “We first launched this system for a limited number of subscribers, but it attracted more attention than we had expected and reached 2 million users in a short time,” says Fahri Arkan, assistant general manager of information technologies at Global Bilgi, which provides contact center services for Turkcell. At last check, more than 4.5 million Turkcell customers had created voiceprints.

5. Voice biometrics is good only for security. Sure, voice biometrics is a convenient, highly effective way to combat fraud. But that’s just one of many benefits. For example, by streamlining the authentication process, the – live agent now have more time for revenue-generating tasks such as upselling callers. Streamlining authentication also can shorten call durations and increase containment within the IVR, which makes for happier customers, more productive agents and a more cost effective call center overall. A happier customer also means a more loyal customer, and that’s something that everyone within your organization, right up to the CEO, can get excited about.

So when calculating the ROI for a voice biometrics investment, it’s a mistake to fixate on the security benefits, which are variable and sometimes difficulty to quantify. Instead, the ROI analysis should include the potential revenue and efficiency benefits, too.

If there’s an upside to these five commonly held misconceptions, it’s that your competitors probably believe them. Leverage that by taking advantage of voice biometrics before they see the light.

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About Andrea Mocherman

This was a contributed post by Andrea Mocherman. To see more content like this, visit the Customer experience section of our blog.