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August 21st, 2020

Neustar Inbound Authentication is an ACT-IAC Innovation Awards Finalist

Neustar Inbound Authentication is a finalist in the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s Sixth Annual Igniting Innovation Awards. Every year, the event “identifies, recognizes, promotes, and connects the best innovations and innovators to improve services to customers and government operations.”

Federal agencies have more opportunities to deliver excellent customer experience over the phone than through any other channel. The contact center is the front line of customer experience. Customers who are unable to complete a task on their first try—through digital, email or any other non-phone channel—are more likely to call in for eventual resolution. This marks a shift in priority for contact centers, away from decreasing average handle time (AHT), toward improving the customer experience overall. A shorter call brings no satisfaction if it is unpleasant or inconclusive.

Watch: Government Contact Center Responses to COVID-19

Legacy authentication jeopardizes government contact centers

For federal contact center customer service representatives (CSR) to be effective and empowered, callers must first prove that they are genuinely whom they claim to be. They must authenticate. This task takes up the first 30 to 90 seconds of every call and sets the tone for the rest of the interaction.

It’s a balancing act. Relax the authentication process to speed up service and reduce costs, and risk of fraud goes up. Tighten fraud security measures too much, and caller frustration and operational costs increase.

Fraud practices—like SIM swapping, unauthorized number reassignment, spoofing, call virtualization, and call forwarding—negate legacy defenses and allow criminals to appear as if they are calling from customers’ phone numbers. Once criminals socially engineer a customer service representative, they gain unauthorized access to a customer’s account and may request improper payments of benefits before the real customer finds out. That is why criminals work so hard to reconstruct customers’ identities from data lost in recent breaches or divulged on social media.

Many agencies struggle to identify customers quickly because, on average, over 60% of their records are out of date after only two years. Customers often call from numbers other than those associated with their records in agencies’ databases. They are unlikely to give notice that they have changed carriers or phone numbers.

Read: Federal Contact Centers: Achieve a Positive Citizen Experience, Agency Operational Efficiency, and Fraud Mitigation

This uncertainty forces agencies to treat all inbound callers with excess caution. That’s a jarring contrast to the customer experience afforded by leading private-sector organizations. Those organizations that have invested in inbound caller authentication have elevated customers’ expectations for all contact centers, including those representing federal agencies.

The most common method of identifying and authenticating callers, knowledge-based authentication (KBA) questions (e.g., date of birth, last four digits of social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc.) represents a tremendous risk to agencies’ call centers. It frustrates customers. It balloons average handle times with low-value work that increases personnel costs. It is useless against modern fraud tactics.

Government contact centers need better ways to authenticate and verify customers, in real-time, to prevent fraud and loss of customer trust in the systems designed to protect and serve them. To achieve this balance and attain these results, federal contact centers need a solution that establishes a clear and indelible understanding of the customer behind every transaction or interaction.

Balance fraud prevention, customer experience, and operational efficiency

Neustar Inbound Authentication allows federal agencies to identify and authenticate inbound callers before an agent or interactive voice response system answers the call. By speeding and securing authentication, contact centers can route callers for superior service. Additionally, Inbound Authentication solves for the following common call center issues:

  • Mitigates common phone fraud risks, including SIM swapping, unauthorized number reassignment, spoofing, call virtualization, and call forwarding
  • Identifies callers calling from a number different than the one in the CRM
  • Contains more calls within the interactive voice response (IVR) system, or correctly routes them to a CSR without requiring knowledge-based authentication

Read: Improving Customer Experience During COVID-19

Neustar Inbound Authentication enables federal contact centers to give customers the experience they expect from the private sector. Instead of greeting callers with KBA questions, agency contact centers can begin providing service 30 to 90 seconds sooner. Doing so instills in customers confidence that the federal government is delivering on its mission. Providing service with complete confidence in the identity of the person on the other end of the line supports both greater operational efficiency and a better customer experience. Authenticating the caller’s identity in real-time mitigates criminal tactics that lead to account takeover and stolen payments.

Many industries with inbound call center operations leverage Neustar Inbound Authentication, including financial services, insurance, healthcare, communications, and utilities. Neustar identity technology is used by hundreds of brands in private sector entities across many verticals, including all top 10 U.S. banks, all top 10 credit card issuers, all the top four U.S. wireless carriers, eight of the top 10 property and casualty insurers, eight of the 10 ten automotive lenders, four of the top five cable TV providers, and seven of the top 15 utilities.

Read: 2020 State of the Call Center Authentication Survey

Neustar looks forward to the results of the ACT-IAC awards and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing discussions regarding authentication in federal call centers.

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