By Brett Beranek, Senior Principal Solutions Marketing Manager, Enterprise, Nuance

Voice biometrics is a fast, convenient and highly accurate way to authenticate customers. Those benefits are why banks, telcos and other organizations are enrolling voiceprints at an average rate of more than 1.2 million per month, Opus research estimates.

But voice biometrics isn’t something that an organization can simply implement and assume success. Instead, four best practices are key for maximizing ROI and the customer experience:

1. Explain the technology and user benefits in easy-to-understand, jargon-free terms.

Here’s one possibility: ”Your voice is as unique to you as your fingerprint. You can use your voice to verify your identity, without having to remember a PIN, password or answer security questions.”

2. Target the right users.

Analyze your customer base to decide whether voice biometrics should be offered to all of them or certain types. For example, a financial institution might initially offer voice authentication to just high-wealth customers to spare them the hassle of remembering and providing traditional authentication information. These customers also could enroll using passive authentication, thus skipping any overt steps for providing a voiceprint.

There are also business considerations. Offering voice biometrics to all customers maximizes total benefits, but it also requires the largest investment, which not all organizations can afford. A good middle ground is to enroll customers who fail the current authentication method. This strategy maximizes ROI by reducing the scope of the initial deployment, while addressing the most costly customer group.

3. Develop an enrollment plan.

One option is to require all customers to enroll their voiceprint in order to access the IVR. This policy maximizes enrollment and is the same strategy used for self-service websites: Users must create a username and password in order to use the customer care portal.

Opt-out enrollment is another common approach. Un-enrolled callers to the IVR are put through the enrollment process, and they need to do something, such as dialling 0, to bypass enrollment. This strategy tends to achieve enrollment rates of at least 80 percent. The third and least recommended approach is opt-in, where users are given the choice to enroll. The enrollment rate is heavily dependent on the enrollment offer. For example, one of T-Mobile’s European units charges a one-time activation fee to enable voice biometrics. Eighty-nine percent of its customers are willing to pay to use voice biometrics to avoid PINs, passwords and security questions. That level of success requires a very well-though-out promotion plan.

Finally, don’t overlook the importance of agents. They have a significant impact in the enrollment process, especially in opt-out and opt-in scenarios. Consider providing financial incentives to ensure they are motivated to promote enrollment when interacting with un-enrolled customers.

4. Make enrollment easy yet secure.

For example, select a single passphrase for all enrollees that’s relevant and easy to speak. Using a common passphrase enables an IVR prompt, such as “Please say, ‘At Sphere Bank, my voice is my password.’” As a result, customers know exactly what they need to say in order to enroll, and the sentence reinforces the benefit. A single passphrase also makes it easier for the system to identify fraudsters.