Thursday, July 24, 2008

IVR Can Give More Secure Calls

IVR systems are often suggested for call centers to minimize costs. It seems to be assumed that such a system will inevitably deliver a poorer caller experience than talking to a human agent. In this age where identity theft is much more prevalent, this overlooks a major advantage that an IVR system can offer.

The standard questions that a human agent may ask, like home telephone number or postal code, are no barrier for the expert identity thief. For such an identity thief, a bit of “dumpster diving” can sometimes provide a rich harvest of personal information - information that could be used to fool any human agent. Unfortunately not everyone follows the detailed advice that is available to avoid such deception.

A report released by ContactBabel and VoiceVault on U.S. Contact Centers shows what it costs currently to protect against such identity theft. They estimate that in the USA, it will cost $11.7 Billion and more than 11,000 Years of Contact Center Agents’ time to check Callers’ Identities in 2007. Thankfully there is another way as the report suggests.

The report highlights that biometric technology will be a key to successful identity verification. Voice verification systems, the only biometric technology that can be used over the phone, are now delivering levels of accuracy and security that have proven robust enough for use by banks and insurers. Voice verification can be combined with the answer to a memorable question in cases where a two-factor authentication process is required.The report shows that implementing a voice verification system in a contact center receiving 10 million inbound calls per year with existing identity verification procedures taking on average 20 seconds could save $6.5 million each year. For procedures such as Internet password resetting, the higher level of security achieved with voice verification enables businesses to offer real-time password resets or reminders reducing up to 70 percent of helpdesk calls.

Caller Authentication systems using voice verification are available from a number of companies including Nuance and VoiceVault. The higher security that is possible with an IVR gives yet one more reason for early adoption of this cost-effective technology.