Security has long been the singular focus of voice biometrics applications. And for good reason. A voice print, is as unique to an individual as a fingerprint or iris scan. And since speaking is what we do naturally, voice is as user-friendly as it is secure.

Voice biometrics implementations are on the rise, Nuance customers alone have surpassed 15 million voiceprint deployments, up nearly 90% from the previous year, which has been driven primarily by government legislation and corporations’ desire (need) to prevent fraud and protect privacy. As Opus Research, a leading analyst firm in voice services and conversational commerce, noted in a recent report: “Executives at financial services companies, healthcare providers and telecommunications service providers are forging ahead with plans to implement voice biometric technologies.”

While voice biometrics implementations remain sharply focused on “leveraging existing security infrastructure to support the goal of fraud prevention,” the report also highlights new areas of opportunity around improved customer service and providing strong, rapid authentication in e-commerce and mobile commerce, where time (and ease of use) is paramount.

Innovating for Competitive Advantage

Indeed, many companies that first saw voice biometrics primarily as a weapon against unauthorized access to information or resources, are now wielding the technology to deliver a superior customer experience.

Take for example Turkcell Global Bilgi who is on track to enroll approximately 8 million users by December 2012, which is as many voice prints that existed globally at the end of 2010.

With the implementation of voice biometrics Turkcell Global Bilgi has been able to streamline the identity verification process, callers no longer need to remember a pass code, or answer intrusive questions. Voice is the verifier and the person is the password. Customers are more quickly and easily authenticated allowing them to be more productive.  And voice didn’t just improve the customer experience; it also allowed Turkcell Global Bilgi to position itself as an industry leader and innovator.

Significantly, Turkcell Global Bilgi could use its voice biometrics implementation- and the superior customer service experience it delivered – to show customers they are innovative and committed to making their lives simpler. It also encouraged its customers to become brand advocates and use social media to share their enthusiasm for the no-brainer technology and the outstanding service it enabled – prompting other operators in the region to deploy voice biometric solutions.

Beyond the IVR

At the other end of the spectrum, Bank Leumi, one of the largest banks in Israel, implemented voice biometrics to streamline its authentication process, which was a tedious two-step process using PINs and verification questions that customers found both time-consuming and frustrating.

The call duration was another issue Bank Leumi was determined to tackle. Again, voice biometrics delivered positive results, allowing the bank to markedly improve the work efficiency of contact center agents and so reduce overall costs.

However, it was the improvement of the overall customer service experience that had the biggest impact.

The immediate feedback from customers showed they appreciated the secure, convenient and more efficient services. Bank Leumi reacted by making the decision to deploy the voice biometrics solution across all of its contact centers.

And it doesn’t stop there. Amit Lanshiano, IT Operations Manager at LuemiCall, notes that the technology is under consideration for future deployment in the bank’s mobile banking platform. As he puts it: “The fact that voice can be used across all the channels customers use to interact with us is a great advantage.”

Personalized Service

Invesco Trimark, one of Canada’s largest investment management companies, implemented voice biometrics to build brand loyalty and strengthen relationships by equipping staff with the tools to engage with individual customers and deliver them a truly personalized experience.

To achieve this, the company needed a simple and secure way to identify callers, without giving the customers the feeling that they were numbers or – worse – strangers. A procedure that focused too much on the process and not enough on the person was deemed a ‘fail’ because it did not serve to establish a supportive, personal relationship. In recognition of this shortcoming Invesco Trimark replaced its approach – which required the customer to input an ID number and then answer industry-standard questions to verify their identify – with one that used voice biometrics.

The solution allowed the company to route each customer to a dedicated Client Relationship Representative (CRR), who knew precisely who the caller was and could therefore focus efforts entirely on delivering personalized service.

Interestingly, the voice biometrics solution did more than equip the company to deliver outstanding service out of the gate. It also exceeded the company’s objectives for security. To put the system to the test, the company staged a comprehensive evaluation where, under controlled conditions, imposters made attempts to gain access to a CRR using their voice. The test yielded an impressive security rate of 100 percent, which means the voice biometrics solution prevented the imposter from accessing client data every time.

Bright future

High accuracy and security are just part of the reason why voice biometrics is becoming the technology of choice for a wide variety of identification and authentication scenarios. But voice biometrics also streamlines customer service, providing time-crunched consumers convenient, simple and efficient service they genuinely value.

As each of these case studies demonstrates, voice biometrics has come to occupy a strategic position in the efforts companies across a wide range of verticals are pursuing to enhance customer service, build brand loyalty, position themselves as industry innovators and gain competitive advantage.

Clearly, voice biometrics has not only reached an important inflection point. It has emerged as a technology that allows companies to deliver customers the personal service they prefer across all the channels they demand.

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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.