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March 13th, 2020

Three Reasons Apps Won't Kill The Contact Center

The ability for consumers to check balances, make transfers, and complete other simple transactions through banking apps has reduced the number of calls into banking contact centers. When consumers can’t self-serve in an app, banks are experimenting with a tap-to-call function. Because consumers will have already authenticated to the app, consumers calling in with this function won’t need to authenticate a second time with the contact center.

This is fantastic for user experience and a sterling example of cross-channel service functionality. Without a doubt, it will reduce average handle time and improve operational efficiency.

Could this mark the demise of the contact center?

I doubt it. Here’s why.

The user must be aware of the tap-to-call function

Only Millennials prefer apps over phones for contacting brands. The preference is the opposite for all other generations.



We might see a decline in inbound call volumes if each of the top 20 U.S. banks’ apps offered a tap-to-call function, but it would be limited. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. Consider the following...

Consumer adoption of mobile apps is slowing

Adoption of mobile banking apps has been softening in markets where consumers have many options to interact with banks. Some consumers are content to interact with banks through more established channels. This trend persisted in 2019. Over 40 percent of American consumers reported having a payment app on their phones. Six in ten of those who downloaded apps used them weekly.

No matter the generation, consumers will always need to call for certain service issues. Some matters are too complex or too sensitive for self-service. They require the assurance that only another human can provide. That leads us to the initial moment of contact: authentication.

Nothing beats pre-answer authentication

For consumers who decide to call their banks and are aware of tap-to-call functionality, the authentication process to the app must be easier than calling the bank. Consumers prefer the channel with the least friction.

The app’s fallback authentication process will require users to enter a username and password. It’s tiresome to enter a password that adheres to strong criteria—8-24 characters, including symbols and numbers—on a smartphone pop-up keyboard. Contrast that with two possible authentication experiences over the phone: challenge questions or ownership-based authentication.

Challenge questions, commonly known as knowledge-based authentication, are losing the confidence of banks and consumers. The process adds 30-90 seconds to the beginning of phone calls. It is a bad consumer experience and no improvement over entering a username and password in apps. Also, it’s insecure. Fraudsters have the answers to these types of security defenses. Blame years of data breaches and free sharing of personal information on social media.

Read: Ten Reasons Why KBA Threatens the Modern Contact Center

In contrast, ownership-based authentication is quick, easy, and secure. It inspects the caller’s phone to confirm that the device is physical, unique, authentic, and registered to the claimed ANI. In tandem, it inspects and confirms that the call is between the calling phone and the contact center, a process called Telephone Network Forensics. Consumers’ phones, be they landlines, mobiles, VoIP, etc., are excellent authentication tokens because they are never far from their owners and phone numbers act as unique persistent identifiers. It’s faster and more secure than passwords and knowledge-based authentication. The result improves consumer satisfaction, speeds call resolution, and reduces fraud.

In the case of Neustar Inbound Authentication, the caller’s identity is established and verified before her call is answered. If she’s calling from her regular phone, she will be greeted by name and asked a simple challenge question before moving immediately to the service portion of the phone call. It’s a wonderful consumer experience. An app’s authentication process couldn’t be easier—without sacrificing security.

The biggest players in the financial services industry have noted another benefit to using Neustar Inbound Authentication: it allows high-value self-serve options were too risky for IVRs previously. Think money transfers, PIN resets, and travel notifications. Agents shielded by pre-answer authentication are insulated from social engineering tactics and freed to focus on more complex and timely matters.

Discover more benefits of implementing a Trusted Caller Flow in your contact center.

We welcome the innovations developing in the banking industry. Anything that improves consumer experience and security is a good thing, whether it is through the digital channel or a phone call. Just don’t expect apps to kill the contact center.

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