The ATO to use voice biometrics to authenticate customers


The Australian Tax Office is using voice biometrics to authenticate customers

The Australian Taxation Office has completed its two-phase deployment of Nuance’s voice biometrics to authenticate customers in its call centre.

The ATO in an effort to build stronger customer relationships and enhance authentication processes by replacing intrusive security questions with voice recognition technology.

Approximately 75% of the nine million calls the ATO receive every year require verification of caller’s identity.

Additionally, almost half of these calls are receive during peak tax times, between July and October.

What happened before the ATO was using Voice Biometrics?

Prior to voice biometrics, when a customer called to conduct a transaction with the ATO, the authentication process involved several steps, putting pressure not only on customers to provide personal details or have the correct documentation in front of them, but also on the ATO’s call centre agents, who collectively spent approximately 75,000 hours each year just trying to verify customers over the phone.

To solve this, the ATO chose to deploy Nuance’s voice biometrics to authenticate customers in partnership with Optus and Nuance.

The ATO completed its first installation of Nuance’s VocalPassword solution in September 2014, whereby customers speak a simple passphrase to verify their account.

In April 2015, the ATO completed its second-phase of deployment, the implementation of Nuance’s FreeSpeech solution, providing a seamless experience for customers.

Benefits of using Voice Biometrics 

Call completion rates have immediately increased as a result of the new implementation, and from a customer perspective, the contact centre experience has improved, with repeat callers experiencing a 40-45 second reduction in the average time that they are on the phone with an agent.

“No one wants to be on a call to the ATO longer than they need to, but we must ensure that convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security” said John Dardo, acting Deputy Commissioner, ATO.

Dardo goes on to say “With Nuance’s voice biometrics solutions, we have introduced a secure, fast and easy way to verify a customer’s identity, providing a greatly improved experience for our customers and for our staff.”

Executive vice president and general manager for the Enterprise Division of Nuance, Robert Weideman claims “All Organisations are competing to provide new and engaging customer service experiences that are simple and secure.”

Organisations around the globe are recognising the growing consumer frustration with PINs, passwords, and security questions and are addressing it head-on to make customer authentication more convenient, and more secure than knowledge-based authentication.

The voice biometrics technology is set to lead the industry, currently with over 50 million voiceprints deployed by its customers and growing.

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