September 30, 2021
By Pavel Jirik in Blog
Customer behavior is constantly evolving, forcing businesses to adapt to changing expectations and preferences. If we have to describe these changes using one word, it could be the term “convenience”. Users want seamless experiences, easy procedures, and fast execution in every aspect of their interactions with businesses.
This trend also applies to high-security operations like logging into a bank account or contacting a call center. That’s why these institutions should focus on security and strive to provide an excellent customer experience to all consumers.
One way to do so is by implementing passwordless authentication processes. One of the most common ways to balance it with security requirements is by leveraging biometric authentication systems. In this article, we take a closer look at current customer expectations and how they pair with passwordless solutions. We will then suggest technologies that fit these expectations exactly.
User Expectations Towards the Customer Experience
Let’s see what modern users expect from their interactions with businesses.
- 75% of users expect to get immediate information when they use their mobile phones. (Think with Google)
- 42% of consumers point to seamless experiences across channels as their top priority. (Wunderman Thompson)
- 44% of responders believe that the average response time from customer service should be below 5 minutes. (Tidio)
- 83% of respondents say that the most important factor is simply being able to “quickly accomplish what I came to do.” (Fullstory)
- 75% of respondents expect companies to use new technologies to provide better experiences. (Fullstory)
The data presented above underlines clear trends: users expect fast and seamless experiences and want companies to remove friction during interactions that should not last longer than 5 minutes.
Implementing passwordless authentication solutions may considerably help companies meet or even exceed these expectations.
What is a Passwordless Customer Experience?
The term passwordless customer experience refers to a situation when a user does not need to use any passphrase or knowledge-based secret in order to be authenticated - a process that is performed to access digitally stored data, confirm an online operation, or contact a call center or a bank, just to name a few examples.
Businesses can provide a passwordless customer experience by implementing authentication processes based on analyzing variables other than passwords like, for example, biometric authentication methods. This technology can use various biometric characteristics, but later in this article, we will focus on passive voice biometrics as an excellent choice for companies willing to offer their users both security and a passwordless customer experience.
Now let’s look at what aspects companies should take into consideration when aiming towards passwordless customer authentication.
The Road to a Passwordless Customer Experience
The World Economic Forum launched a white paper titled Passwordless Authentication: The next breakthrough in secure digital transformation (source). It discusses why businesses should head towards a password-free future and what aspects they should consider while doing so.
In most cases, security is the most important aspect for companies considering changes to their authentication systems. That is why, when looking for new solutions, businesses should focus on technologies that analyze multiple variables at the same time and prove to be more secure than existing, or rather currently used, ones. It is also essential to assess how long new solutions will likely be resistant to cybercrime or any other kinds of fraud attempts, as well as what software and hardware they require in order to work properly.
Along with security comes the user experience. Organizations should lean towards authentication methods that will make the user journey seamless and the work of call center agents easier. Even the most secure solutions will not get consumer buy-in if they are hard to use or take too much time.
Apart from being safe and providing an excellent user experience, new means of passwordless authentication must also comply with privacy requirements and regulations. Numerous data breaches occurring in the past have made the public distrustful towards new authentication solutions. That is why businesses willing to implement passwordless authentication processes must address every privacy-related concern and transparently communicate the reasons for implementing new technologies.
From a business perspective, every passwordless solution must be scalable and able to expand across different platforms, adjusting to companies’ growth. Because of that, it is best to plan performance targets well in advance in order to build and implement new technology infrastructures properly from the start.
Another aspect that must be considered is the possibility of customization - operational needs should be assessed for a few years in advance if they are to provide a proper level of customization. This is important for both businesses and users, because the system must be fully operational and adjust to shifting needs and requirements on the go. These changes must include adjusting to a varying customer environment without compromising accuracy or security for any action or operation taking place over the phone.
All of these aspects must be considered to ensure that a new passwordless authentication system is secure, user-friendly, and fulfills other common requirements.
Security of a Passwordless Customer Experience
The Convenience of Passwordless Voice Biometric Authentication
To offer customers a passwordless customer experience using a voice channel that is both safe and convenient, businesses can turn to authentication technologies that use passive voice biometrics. It is a solution that enables companies to authenticate users based on their voices. To be able to undergo authentication, users have to undergo an enrollment process first. It’s a straightforward procedure - a person has to say a few words during a conversation to provide a voiceprint that is stored by a system in the form of a mathematical model, and which is used later to carry out the authentication process. A voice biometric system needs a voiceprint sample that is no longer than 30 seconds in order to work properly.
After the enrollment process, the user is seamlessly authenticated each time they reach out to that call center. What is important here is that the user doesn’t need to provide any password or passphrase to undergo authentication. Instead, they can just talk to a call center agent, and the authentication process will take place in the background. That’s why it’s called passive voice biometrics - it doesn’t require any password-related action on the user’s side. It is also worth mentioning that passive voice authentication can be performed throughout a whole conversation rather than just at the beginning of it, as in the case with active voice biometrics when a passphrase is recited.
As you may see, voice authentication can create an improved, frictionless customer experience because it basically happens without the user's involvement. But that’s not the only benefit of adopting this technology.
Security of Passwordless Voice Biometric Authentication
Security is another major benefit of voice biometrics. The characteristics of the human voice are unique to each person. What is more, these parameters are extremely hard to imitate, even if a voice recording is used. Since there are no two identical voices, a voiceprint includes features that make it unique and distinguish its owner from any other person.
This, in turn, means that voice biometrics play a crucial role in preventing cybercrime, especially vishing - a type of fraud committed over the phone. Usually, vishers aim to obtain their victim’s personal data by impersonating a representative of a trusted organization. When they succeed in getting that information, cybercriminals will attempt to use it to gain access to the victim’s bank account. If that banking institution uses voice biometric authentication, this technology becomes the final barrier to preventing the vishers’ success, adding an extra layer of security to the authentication process.
Voice biometric authentication also supports the seamless personalization and customization of user experiences.
In this sense, thanks to voice biometrics, the technological devices surrounding users can create unique profiles for each user in order to offer them personalized user experiences such as different recommendations for each profile, etc. All this, paired with the fact that passwordless voice biometric systems analyze hundreds of voice traits while authenticating users, prevents potential identity theft.
Getting back to the seamless customer experience, there’s also one aspect we should remember about. Voice biometric authentication systems create better experiences for users because they don’t have to recite any passphrases when contacting call centers. So it’s not only about the speed of service, which is obviously improved thanks to voice authentication since the user can start a conversation the moment they are connected with an agent. It’s also about the fact that the user does not have to remember any password or manage any credentials. Considering how many different online accounts each of us has nowadays, passwordless authentication makes a huge difference to the overall customer experience whilst providing high security and preventing fraud at the same time.
It may seem that providing a fully passwordless customer experience requires lots of effort on the side of a business. And it often does at the beginning, as implementing a new authentication system can be a complex process. However, looking at the benefits that passwordless authentication solutions bring, it is clearly worth the energy and resources they involve. And after making sure that the authentication system is secure, user-friendly, scalable, and in line with privacy requirements, companies are ready to provide a passwordless customer experience.