West Corporation

Posted on April 29, 2013 by West Corporation 



Identification and Verification in IVR

Do you know who I am?

That was a popular catch phrase from an American Express commercial around 1978. If you remember that commercial, then you probably danced at a disco. A real disco.

In customer service, it is imperative that you know who your customers are. And not only their names, but their account history. The more you can confirm about a customer, the more they will trust you and reveal the reason for their call. In the IVR, we call this identification and verification (IDV).

The best way to identify a caller is with a phone number. In 1978, one household had one phone number on a telephone permanently affixed to the kitchen wall. Today, there are over 327 million wireless devices. That’s right. More wireless devices than people. (Note that in my home state of Nebraska, there are more than 7 million cows and fewer than 2 million people.)

So, if you don’t recognize a caller by his or her phone number, what do you do? Keep in mind the goal is not technology. The goal is to offer the customer the best experience possible without aggravating them. If the phone number is not on your records, simply ask for the phone number on the account or ask if the customer wants to become a new customer. Customers know they have multiple phones and they know they are calling from the office. They get it. This is also a great time to increase your customer profile. Ask  if the customer wants to include in their file the number he/she is calling from. The next time they call, they will have a much faster experience.

Many companies require a second form of identification. That can be a bit tricky since it’s based on how customer accounts are set up. The best method is to use something “intuitive” like a social security number or birth date. Using the last four digits of the social security number is preferred, as many people are reluctant to provide personal information. Using only the last four digits of the social security number or birth date sends the message that you already have their personal information and are simply confirming it. However, don’t ask for the second piece of authentication unless you need to access secure data such as account balance. Do you really need their social security number to offer technical support? Find a location? FAQs?

The big benefit to successful IDV in an IVR? Customers can self-service. You can’t provide successful self-service to people you don’t know. So, increase your IDV, decrease your call center costs, increase your customer satisfaction and boogie the night away.

West Corporation