A Leap Forward for Contact Centers: Multi-factor Authentication

What’s the top driver of growth in contact centers? Deloitte’s 2017 Global Contact Center Survey shows 88% of respondents say the answer is customer service. With digital customer interactions now at over 40% of contact center activity and gaining ground, improving service across a complex mix of channels is a high priority. Reflecting this fact, the Deloitte survey also reports that leading areas for strategic investment include website capabilities, mobile applications and automated virtual assistants.

Why are company contact centers at the core of the customer experience? The answer is simple: Companies that fail to meet rising customer demands for accuracy, quality of information, ease of use and self-sufficiency risk losing their competitive advantage.

Technology for contact centers offers promise…if you can overcome the obstacles, first

The game is on. Contact centers are calling upon new technologies to embrace an “always on” culture committed to personalized, quick and accurate service. Savvy companies are fueling these efforts with emerging technologies including AI (artificial intelligence), VoC (voice of customer), intelligent chatbots, and innovative routing and data analytics that provide insight into customer behaviors and preferences. Opportunities are many, and so are the challenges:

  • Authentication woes. The entry point for most customer interactions is authentication, such as through an online customer portal. Unfortunately, customers become frustrated by the ongoing need to generate, remember, retrieve and periodically change passwords. The situation only becomes more complex as customers interact with the company across multiple channels.
  • Stolen Data. In 2017, payment fraud, account takeover, creation attacks and other attempted online fraud jumped 113% from 2016. Cybersecurity has become a primary focus for businesses. But it’s all too easy these days for cybercriminals to obtain knowledge-based authentication credentials, such as passwords and security questions, through the dark web, social engineering and other increasingly innovative schemes.
  • Adaptability. As we modernize our contact centers, disruption and systems integrations issues are on everyone’s mind. The challenge is finding a way to quickly deploy an authentication system that covers all applications, including the cloud, and is adaptable to future technology needs.

Multi-factor authentication is a leap forward for customer experience

The good news is that advanced authentication technologies can increase customer experience, security and interoperability. A rising star is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Already in play for many social media sites, it is finding a home in customer contact center applications. Rather than verifying customers by using problematic passwords or security questions based on “what you know,” MFA adds factors based on “what you have” (one-time passwords), “what you are” (biometrics, such as fingerprints, iris scans and voice prints) and combinations of any and all.

What’s more, many call centers are adapting multi-factor authentication for their internal call center agents. These employees access sensitive information (healthcare, financial, personal records) with each call. They need to be able to access this information quickly but also do so in a way that provides security. Using next-generation techniques such as biometrics, risk-based authentication, and near-field communication (NFC), agents can rapidly gain access customer records and move through screens in a way that provides a better level of service and security. A customer may never know his information is being protected with MFA.

Voice prints are the most relevant measure for IVR (interactive voice response), mobile and other voice channels. Like other biometrics, voice prints are highly secure, accurate and convenient — eliminating the need for customers to answer authentication questions, enter a PIN or take any other action. And because it works in the background, customers just experience quick, seamless routing to the correct service.

Contact centers represent a significant opportunity to boost customer experience. With multi-factor authentication including biometrics, companies can optimize customer satisfaction while simultaneously increasing efficiency, improving workflows and taking security to the next level.

Jeff Carpenter is Director of Identity and Access Management solutions at Crossmatch. In this role, he is responsible for evangelizing Crossmatch’s DigitalPersona® solution. In his 10+ years in cybersecurity, Jeff has held positions with a number of top tier cybersecurity and technology companies, most recently he was with RSA, a Dell Technologies company. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He holds both a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) designation.

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