The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has changed the business landscape forever. One area that has been transformed in recent weeks is the way that businesses connect with their customers. As UK branches and offices remain closed, all interactions have become virtual, propelling organisations to rethink their customer experience strategies like never before.

This has not come without its challenges, with employees and businesses alike grappling with the shift to remote working, whilst facing some of the most substantial historical volumes of customer inquiries and requests. Banks in Ireland, for example, have witnessed a 400 percent increase in contact centre calls seeking financial support in recent weeks.

With agents under more pressure to deliver their advice and services than ever before, providing a seamless experience and maintaining a personalised customer journey from start to finish has never been more difficult to achieve.

But, this period of chaos and uncertainty has opened up a whole world of possibilities in terms of maintaining and improving the customer experience, encouraging organisations in all sectors to be creative, explore different avenues and invest in new initiatives.

Getting personal (quickly) 

It is often said that personalisation is the key to positive customer experience. Whilst digital interactions are nothing new, recent weeks have seen face-to-face communication between businesses and their customers become almost non-existent. With the majority of in-store branches set to remain closed for some time – and some retailers, such as T.M.Lewin, shifting all operations online for the foreseeable future – the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for a new chapter in customer communication.

The challenge for all organisations will be maintaining personalised services and providing a frictionless, human-like interaction from a distance.

This is where modern technologies, such as biometric solutions, come in. For example, voice biometrics can use sophisticated algorithms to analyse more than 1,000 voice characteristics – from pronunciation to size and shape of the nasal passage – to authenticate a user. Meanwhile, behavioural biometrics can measure the most minute details – such as how an individual holds their phone, how they type and even whether they pause once they finish a task. 

Both technologies can be used to validate whether someone is who they say they are immediately based on how they sound. In fact, biometric engines need as little as half a second of audio to authenticate and start personalising a customer engagement.

This means that agents can identify a customer immediately and start personalising the interaction from the outset. The ability to authenticate an individual immediately is proving particularly useful in helping agents to identify and prioritise their most vulnerable customers. For example, the latest technologies on the market are able to identify whether a person is over the age of 65 – and therefore might be needing more urgent assistance – using just the sound of their voice.

Convenience is King

By enabling almost real-time authentication, voice technologies are making customer interactions as seamless and convenient as possible. Often, those calling with an enquiry are either concerned or frustrated. The last thing they need is another barrier getting in the way of them accessing the right support quickly.

Traditionally, knowledge-based credentials and alphanumeric phrases have been widely used to prove that someone is who they say they are. Individuals use names or addresses and passwords or PINs. But it’s being proved time and time again, that traditional passwords and PINs are no longer fit for purpose.

In fact, they are inconvenient, with recent Nuance research finding that two in five (38 percent) individuals forget them at least once a month and have to reset them or request for them to be resent.

Biometric technologies are able to enhance security, without compromising on customer experience. Customers don’t need to remember something specific and worry about that information being stolen. There is no longer even a need to be authenticated using specific passphrase such as ‘my voice is my password’Instead, biometric technologies are enabling organisations to validate a person’s identity through natural utterances. For customer experience, this has opened up a new door, championing convenience for the caller whilst protecting them from fraudsters.

Whilst the last few months have been challenging, they have taught us some valuable lessons, especially when it comes to customer experience. Organisations in every sector have been forced to reimagine the way that they interact and deliver their services. As we look towards the future, modern technologies – such as biometrics – are set to play an increasingly important role, enabling organisations to deliver more convenient, personalised customer experiences than ever before.

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