Is voice recognition a secure enough customer service tool?

30th May 2017

Voice recognition systems can be a fantastic way to improve the speed of customer service, allowing businesses to be more efficient while their employees deal with issues that need a more empathetic response.

And while they have many advantages, the technology can still sometimes have its drawbacks. 

The voice–based security system launched last year by HSBC has faced some scrutiny last week after BBC journalist, Dan Simmons, managed to access his brother’s account by mimicking his voice.

When HSBC introduced the service, it was said to measure 100 different characteristics of a person’s voice in order to verify their identity. All customers need to do is give their account details, date of birth and say “my voice is my password”.

Dan Simmons’ brother, Joe, was unable to withdraw money from his brother’s account – but he was able to hear the available balance and recent transaction, as well as transfer money between accounts.

A spokesman for HSBC told the BBC, "The security and safety of our customers' accounts is of the utmost importance to us. Voice ID is a very secure method of authenticating customers”. 

He added, “twins do have a similar voiceprint, but the introduction of this technology has seen a significant reduction in fraud, and has proven to be more secure than PINS, passwords and memorable phrases."

The incident shows that while voice activated security systems hold a lot of promise and certainly are a far easier way of accessing confidential information, we mustn’t forget the importance of a human touch when it comes to customer service.

A recent report by The Institute of Customer Service, discusses how issues like these can be most efficiently resolved. It advises to “conduct root cause analysis to prevent problems from occurring and deal with complaints quickly and effectively.”

But on average, the banking sector appears to be improving their service – with less people reporting problems and complaints. According to the report, just 9.9% of customers experienced a problem with their bank last year – down from 10.6% in January 2016. Not only that, 82.4% of customers say their most recent interaction was right first time – up from 77% a year ago. 

The report states that the sector is the highest scoring sector (together with tourism) for ‘in person’ experience measures of helpfulness and competence of staff, and that satisfaction with ‘in person’ interactions has increased by 1.5 points – making it 0.8 points above the UK all-sector average.

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