Could your voice be key to the future of security tech?

“I’ve finally learned to love my voice for its uniqueness.” – Juliana Hatfield, US musician.

Musicians and actors will often talk about the great lengths to which they go to discover their unique voice. This is essential in entertainment. What is not commonly spoken about is that each of us has their own “voiceprint”. Each person’s voice is as distinct from another person’s as their fingerprints are. Technology has harnessed voiceprints as a means of combating fraud, and this is increasingly becoming the authentication method of choice.

Online security has been making the news in recent days with the shocking news that customers at one of SA’s top banks had their private information compromised and accounts emptied. The challenge of sealing the gaps in security has become one many customers are demanding. Voice authentication is revolutionising fraud detection and prevention as well as cutting down on call times in contact centres.

Why it works

Other forms of identification in contact centre calls usually involve an extensive list of security questions, taking up minutes of call time and leading to frustration should the customer be transferred to another department and have to repeat the information.

If voice authentication is done actively, customers are asked security questions and their voice is recorded and used at a later date to validate their identity. Passive voice authentication, on the other hand, takes place while the customer is speaking to an agent. The voice authentication software also checks the customer’s voice against a database of known fraudsters and then notifies the agent. This process can be up to 30% faster than obtaining identity verification by asking questions.

This time-on-call reduction increases the efficiency and productivity of the contact centre, and that leads to profitability, since call time is one of the most expensive cost items in a contact centre.

Identity verification by asking questions had led in the past to fraudsters actually gaining information about their victims by calling and pretending to forget details. Some genuine customers really do forget their own details, so the system has its own problems.

The technology is highly sophisticated. When you’re recorded, the recording is converted to a digital format that relies on identifying speech patterns. That means that you won’t be incorrectly identified should you call a contact centre if you have a bad cold, for example.

Other forms of biometric verification such as iris scans and fingerprints are also available, but, for the purposes of contact centres, voiceprints offer an attractive method of verification for companies intent on safeguarding the privacy of their clients and their resources.



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