Steve Williams
Steve Williams Jun 20, 2017

The privacy and protection speech: Educating bank customers about voice biometrics

When callers reach a bank contact center, the first question on their minds is often, “OK, which question will they ask first?”

Commonly referred to as knowledge-based authentication (KBA), these queries occur at the start of calls and you’ve no doubt heard them yourself: “What is your date of birth?” “What is your mother’s maiden name?” “What is the model of your first car?” Or: “What was your first pet’s name?”

While these questions serve a purpose, they also cause consumers to become increasingly annoyed. It’s a never-ending litany every time they call their bank for help. Yet no one at the call center is asking them, “Do you feel like this wastes your time?”

That said there’s a very definite end to this means that consumers can appreciate once they got off the line. They’re more concerned than ever about security breaches and their data being stolen; they fear identity theft and financial loss; they worry about their overall privacy. In a recent survey of 24,000 consumers by Opinium Research and Verint, 89 percent of respondents indicated that it’s vital they know how secure their personal information is.

Banks likewise want to protect their customers’ information and prevent fraud- and theft-caused financial loss at their organizations. It would seem like a win-win, then: part of a comprehensive toolkit of security measures that run the gamut from EMV chip and PIN credit cards, to encryption, to other identification measures.

But for starters, consumers may not remember the answers to security questions they selected years ago. Questions lengthen the call and can make customers frustrated before their needs get addressed. This may escalate phone-based interactions between consumers and contact center agents, not necessarily a good thing for bank PR. So while bank clients want that security, they also want calls to be fast and easy so that they can get the help they need, when they need it, and move on with their day.

Enter voice biometric technology. Much as fingerprints work with smartphones, this technology monitors calls passively “in the background” to identify callers by their unique voiceprint—thus reducing the need for security questions. Still we’ve found that some customers may not be comfortable with their voiceprints being stored, and tend to view it as an invasion of privacy.

To overcome this perception, banks need to better educate their customers on the benefits of voice biometrics and call recording.

These four “p’s” will boost the education process:

  • Proactively communicate

    First, banks should take the initiative to teach their customers about voice biometrics by detailing what it is, how it works, and how they benefit. Don’t keep it a secret: Let it be known that your bank actively uses this technology. Use the thumbprint analogy to explain how analyzing their voice works: It’s a unique, personal identifier that can secure the interaction. Showing how this technology protects them from fraud may go a long way to provide them comfort and demonstrate how you prioritize security. As noted, consumers want this. One you walk them through voice biometrics, and outline how the technology operates in everyday use, you’ll go a long way towards assuaging their worries.

  • Provide resources and training

    Highlight the benefits and provide a “hotline” phone number, as well as email and chat options where people can send questions and concerns. Also, train your call center employees on the benefits and basic functions of voice biometrics so that they can discuss and explain them with customers. They should also know how to tie voice biometrics into a larger discussion about the bank’s overall security strategy and its other initiatives to protect customers.

  • Prove it with numbers

    Offer data points that demonstrate how much fraud you’ve prevented and reduced at the bank since putting voice biometrics in place. When consumers see data that proves the effectiveness of the technology, it can make them more at ease with the bank overall. When they know you use the latest tech to make their calls safer and secure—without sacrificing their privacy—you will turn skeptical customers into loyal and grateful ones eager to maintain a longer-term relationship with your brand.

  • Prepare for resistance

Finally, create a process to address customers concerned with the creation and use of their voiceprint to authenticate them. Realize that some outliers will not embrace the technology, so have a backup plan ready to handle this type of situation.

In all, when you educate and communicate with consumers on the advantages of voice biometrics, you’ll increase awareness and understanding of the technology. That leads to increased comfort and confidence in the banks’ security measures.

Consumers who’ve adopted other new technologies in recent years have grown accustomed to embracing once-alien digital innovations. Voice biometrics offers an effective weapon in the battle against fraud and security—and something to embrace, rather than fear, as threats against consumers and banks continue to rise each year.

Truly, there is no question about it.


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Steve Williams is the vice president of business strategy, identity analytics, for Verint Systems.

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