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October 25, 2021

The Importance of Authentication and Identity in the Digital Landscape

Why You and Every Organizations Should Care About Identity

Diane Otto

Sr. Marketing Manager, Customer Experience Solutions

Most of todays customer interactions take place remotely, be it over voice, video, mobile, or web. Organizations are moving fast to meet the immediate need for enhanced capabilities and digital engagement, but they often overlook key pieces of the puzzle: identity verification and authentication. While these may not always be top of mind for organizations because of decades of using tried and true methods like usernames and passwords, identity verification and authentication, and in some cases the lack thereof, significantly impact the experiences customers receive, vulnerability to fraud, and contact center efficiency metrics.

Every interaction starts with the business needing to answer the same question: who is this person? Are they really who they say they are? The speed, accuracy, and techniques used to find out have an enormous impact on the user experience of that interaction and set the tone for the overall customer experience and brand relationship.  Until now, there has been a trade off between the level of security and the customer experience. If security is the top priority, theres usually more friction on the customer. And vice versa.

The Reality of Today’s Authentication Methods

Outdated authentication techniques like having customers answer questions about their mothers maiden name or past addresses were never great and are inadequate today. In todays accelerating age of cybercrime, anyone anywhere can find out what someone else knows. Yet “Knowledge-Based Authentication” or KBA is what 90+% of companies still do to securely” verify their customers. The thing is, real people, fail the typical KBA process about 30% of the time, while fraudsters can beat the system 60% of the time. That means money is walking out the door due to outdated authentication processes.

Fraud isn’t the only concern. Organizations are taking up too much of a customers time and frustrating them beyond belief – jeopardizing brand loyalty and key contact center KPIs like First Contact Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).

Outside of customer experience are the challenges of security and data privacy. Since most interactions and transactions now taking place remotely with customers calling into contact centers and millions of agents working remotely, the attack surface is bigger than ever, leaving businesses and their customers at significant risk. Raw customer data floating out on agent screens create significant vulnerabilities. And regulated industries have additional concerns when it comes to security and privacy compliance requirements.

Proving Who Someone Is vs. What they Know

It has already been established that anyone can know what someone else knows, so answering traditional “security" questions doesnt work that well. What a hacker cant recreate is someones biometrics. Theres only one of someone on Earth. The key to ironclad security is to prove who a person is versus what they know.   With the rise of powerful sensors in consumer devices and powerful new cryptographic innovations, there are some new tools and techniques that make biometrics possible in the contact center. 

Avaya has teamed with Journey, a digital identity verification and authentication platform provider that is blazing a trail in this field with award-winning innovation. The company is redefining customer identity, authentication, and security by leveraging the sensors on a users phone or laptop (i.e., location services, cameras, keyboards, QR code scanning) to prove who that person is faster and with far greater accuracy.

Journey’s Identity Network and Platform supports sophisticated verification techniques like 3D face mapping and matching to a drivers license or other government ID. The identity network keeps customer data private using advanced cryptographic techniques – speeding up time to establish identity, eliminating non-secure "security" questions, and creating a simpler, more satisfying customer experience. When it comes time to transfer a customer to another agent, authentication is carried forward so the new agent or employee can jump in without missing a beat.

In this way, a new customer can open a new bank account or credit card in about one minute or an existing customer to add a new service with security, accuracy, and regulatory compliance that surpasses what can be done in a traditional bank branch. You can use the camera on your smartphone or laptop to take a photo of a credit card for secure payments, to submit a contract for e-signature, or push an eForm to capture and encrypt sensitive info. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Improving Data Protection

Think about it: if you go to the bar to order a drink, the bartender only needs to know your age – not your address, height, weight, or drivers license number. For too long, contact center agents have had (arguably problematic) access to information they dont necessarily need to assist customers.

Journey and Avaya make it possible for agents, regardless of their location - working from home or elsewhere, to see the results that matter to them (ex: whether a payment went through, or a document was signed) without needing to see or hear a customers personal, identifiable, financial, health, or other sensitive information. Using Journey’s zero-knowledge identity network, the company enables zero-knowledge proof” of identity or sensitive credentials, verifying that something is true or accurate without actually revealing the data. This vastly improves the customer and agent experience by keeping the interaction clean, simple, streamlined, and fortified.

The process of collecting and verifying a customers information is dramatically improved and information is better protected. The data itself can’t be seen or stored by anyone in transit, including Journey.

Reduce Cost? Yes Please.

Verifying and authenticating a customer in a contact center using todays methods typically takes 60-90 seconds but can take as long as two and a half minutes. Research shows eliminating this time can save as much as $3 a call, and even more, depending on which third-party vendors youre using. This can translate into annual savings in the millions, all while providing a better user and customer experience.

There are also savings from fraud reduction. In high-risk industries like financial services, the average organization loses 2-3%of its annual revenue to fraud, and over 60% of that fraud occurs in the contact center. Imagine the impact on the business if that number could be dramatically reduced.

Rethink Your Strategy Now

For too long, companies have been forced to make a trade off between user and customer experience and security, and digital privacy has become a new complication. The time has come to change the nature of customer-to-agent interactions and transactions, and the technology exists to make it happen.

This is something Avaya is passionate about. See identify verification and authentication in action through a familiar story of applying for a credit card application, inquiring about interest rates, and receiving notification of potential fraud.

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