Authentication: The first step to improving call center efficiency

Posted on: March 09th, 2017 by Art Barger

Contact centers are always looking for ways to run more efficiently, save money and provide better customer service. While many banks think that creating initiatives around reducing call handling times and offering more self-serving tools is the way to go, in the end it doesn’t do much for lowering long-term operating costs or improving the customer experience.

Financial institutions that focus on tactical strategies to shave costs or create a more personal banking journey without considering how they authenticate customers over the telephone are overlooking a key point in call center cost and efficiency. 

As the first step in your customer journey, how you identify callers plays a critical role in your day-to-day operating costs and overall banking experience. If you are still relying on outdated methods for identifying customers such as knowledge-based authentication (KBA) then your contact center is not running as efficiently as it should. 

Relying on security questions to verify callers undermines your ability to reduce costs and provide better customer service. Areas that counter your efforts around cutting operating expenses and improving efficiency include:

  • Higher average call times: Interrogating callers with a bunch of KBA security questions can add a minute or more to each customer call. Increasing seconds-to-minutes to every inbound call drives up your labor costs.
  • Longer wait times: When your call center agents are spending more time authenticating customers over the phone, other customers are waiting longer to get their calls answered. Longer wait times frustrate customers that are calling to get a problem resolved.
  • Damage to bank-customer relationships: When customers calling to resolve a issue or make a transaction are interrupted by an unexpected telephone interrogation it impacts their overall satisfaction with your brand. KBA methods can damage your bank-customer relationships, which impact your annual business profits.
  • Putting customer accounts at risk: Today, relying on sensitive customer data to validate customers over the phone is nonpredictive and creates a false trust between the customer and bank agent that can put your customers’ data at risk.    

Automating your caller authentication process changes the way your contact center operates. By proactively verifying callers before they interact with your phone reps, banks can improve cost-efficiency and create a better overall banking experience. They can achieve this by:

  • Removing lengthy telephone interrogations: When you verify callers before the phone is picked up, you eliminate the need for identity interrogations. As a result, your telephone agents answer the phone with a friendly greeting and can begin addressing your customers’ needs right away.
  • Serving more callers faster: When bank reps aren’t wasting half of their phone time interrogating customers, they’re resolving customer issues faster. This allows agents to work more efficiently, increasing the number of callers they talk to each hour.
  • Securing the telephone environment: When you are not relying on potentially stolen or mishandled personal information to identify customers over the phone, you are removing the risk of social engineering scams designed to circumvent knowledge-based defenses.
  • Improving the banking experience: Finally, when customer authentication is proactive and invisible to good or suspicious callers, you provide a safer, more reliable and seamless journey for your valued customers.

In the end, automating your authentication processes allows you to make real-time decisions around high-risk calls, as well as route good calls to operators faster. This helps banks create a cost-efficient environment that your customers trust and can rely on when they need to get their problems resolved in a timely manner.