Biometric authentication offers added value – for customers and for companies!

Now that the final game at the legendary Wembley Stadium has been played, we can consign the EURO 2020 to the history books. During the championship, logging in to our smartphones using facial or fingerprint recognition to get the latest information on upcoming team line-ups or live scores was incredibly easy and user-friendly. This type of biometric authentication offers customers real added value also in a banking context.
Article by Roger Jäggi

Customer focus and cost optimisation can go hand in hand

For financial services providers, it has become clear that the question is no longer whether they should digitalise, but how well they will do so. The most important realisation in this regard is that digitalisation, and consequently also the correct handling of data, is not an end in itself. The goal must be to generate added value; on the one hand for customers and on the other for the company. The relationship between customers and banks has changed fundamentally in recent years. It is therefore important to understand changing customer needs (i.e. for things to be as simple, fast and convenient as possible), and to take these into account when digitalising products, services and processes. If digital experiences are created as part of customer journeys and processes are simplified and digitalised, thus improving the overall provision of services, then customer focus can go hand in hand with cost optimisation and can also be clearly beneficial in terms of increasing revenues.

Optimising the customer journey through voice recognition

It is in this context that the Swiss Bankers Association published its guidelines on handling data in day-to-day business at the beginning of May. The guidelines explore relevant use cases for handling data in a customer-focused manner and address what must be taken into account with regard to data protection, data security and, above all, communication with customers. One of these use cases is biometric authentication procedures in day-to-day banking activities. Biometric authentication by means of fingerprint or facial recognition on smartphones is already a well-established practice. In comparison, authentication using voice recognition is still applied cautiously, especially in the banking sector, although its advantages for banks are clear, namely improved security and efficiency. These arguments are also convincing from a customer’s point of view.

Automated voice recognition can significantly increase efficiency and, above all, convenience for customers when it comes to interaction via telephone. In particular, this is achieved by eliminating the unpopular questions asked in order to authenticate customers. When describing their query, a customer’s voice is compared with their profile on file at the bank. If the two match, employees can respond to the query directly. The efficiency gain per call is in the lower two-digit seconds range. At first glance, this might seem insignificant. However, with a volume of several tens of thousands of calls per week, the total amount of time saved is significant. Employees can use this time to provide high-quality customer service as well as to cross- and up-sell.

Empowerment and communication: Key factors

Having more time to provide customer service and to cross- and up-sell are strong arguments that lead one to question why this process is not more widely used. The answer? People generally do not like change, and customers are no exception. More specifically, in this case, security concerns often prevent people from switching to digital offerings and channels. From a company’s point of view, the most cited response is probably reputational risk, as authentication via voice recognition has in the past given rise to controversial debates.

Most transformations fail not because of the matter at hand, but because customers have been insufficiently mobilised and empowered. Banks should therefore strive to get customers on board not primarily with attractive prices, but by with the use of other arguments. Focus must be placed on informing customers of the benefits and how they can be empowered, for example through target-group-specific customer workshops. Active and transparent communication that creates trust is key to increasing the number of customers who use digital products and services.

Conclusion: communicate with your customers and empower them. In the future, this means they will not only be able to conveniently look up football results, but they can also authenticate themselves by telephone and conduct other banking business in a simple and secure manner. It’s worth it!

About the author

Roger Jäggi is Head of Data & Retail Management at PostFinance AG. Prior to this, he was responsible for Omnichannel & Customer Interaction stream in Post Finance’s digital transformation process.

Blog series on handling dataDigital Finance & Cybersecurity


Roger Jäggi
Head of Data & Retail Management at PostFinance AG

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