Sebastian Reeve, Director of International Marketing, Smart Engagement, Nuance Communications.
In the past 18 months since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, even tech-savvy consumers have turned to digital channels for almost every aspect of their lives, from banking to shopping and ordering food to to take with. Online medical consultations have even increased.
And while most aspects of our lives are slowly starting to return to ‘pre-pandemic normal’, international research has found that this heightened level of digital interaction is likely to continue.
This finding was echoed in a McKinsey analysis from October 2020, which found that the pandemic had accelerated digital transformation by several years, with consumers shifting significantly to online channels.
As companies have responded by innovating and launching a wide range of digitally driven smart offerings, Sebastian Reeve, Director of International Go-To-Market, Intelligent Engagement at Nuance Communications, warns that despite the level of convenience unprecedented offered by digital channels, there are also vulnerabilities in the digital realm that need to be addressed.
“Consumers’ expectations have increased – they demand faster, simpler service that prioritizes their needs, their time and, most importantly, their safety,” he adds.
Many consumers – just over half of those polled in OnePoll’s 10,000-person survey – still prefer to deal with a human when they have a complex issue or question.
According to Reeve, the key to giving consumers the superior experience they expect is to use technology wisely, especially artificial intelligence. For example, this involves combining AI-powered digital customer experiences with efficient human-assisted service when needed.
“Having AI and human agents working together as a single team has never been more important now that customer service agents work primarily from home, but still have to deal with complex customer queries,” he says. .
“This will help build stronger and more valuable customer relationships and provide a significant competitive advantage. ”
Reeve points out that having an AI colleague ensures that help is always at hand for human agents who would otherwise be pretty much alone as they scour multiple knowledge bases for answers while an increasingly frustrated customer is waiting.
“With modern conversational AI, agent interactions can be monitored and real-time support provided. This could include relevant information on customer history, advice on best practices and next best actions, as well as recommendations for targeted products and offers, whatever information and tools are needed to achieve results. resolutions faster and handle customer inquiries and complaints with confidence, ”he says.
But as the growing adoption of digital channels and AI is good news for companies looking to improve the customer experience, Brett Beranek, vice president and general manager of the Security and Biometrics business line at Nuance, warns that the increase in the number of digital interactions increases the vulnerability of businesses and their customers to ever more sophisticated cybercrime attacks.
Of particular concern is the growing use and sophistication of deepfake technology – the manipulation of video and / or audio to make individuals (usually high profile) appear to be saying or doing something when they are not. have not.
Research in 2020 found that there were already 100 million deepfake videos on the internet, a 6,820-fold increase from 14,678 in 2019. Although most of these forgeries are not particularly sophisticated, nor susceptible deceiving the majority of viewers (UK ruler The 2020 Alternative Christmas Message is one example), deepfake technology is improving rapidly, making it easier to produce more realistic deepfakes.
This is especially true when it comes to voice cloning, which could have serious repercussions for businesses, both financially and in terms of reputation.
One of the first reported cases of fraudulent fraud involved cloning the voice of the CEO of an energy company to defraud the company with nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
“It’s only a short step between cybercriminals posing as a senior executive to gain access to confidential information and pretend to be a client withdrawing a large sum of money,” says Beranek.
“Businesses need to act today and put in place the tools and strategies to defend themselves and their customers against this next chapter of fraud. “
But how? When criminals are able to use technology to effectively mimic an individual’s accent and speaking style, separating the true from the false can be extremely difficult, especially for the human ear.
Beranek maintains that the only way to fix the problem is for companies to use biometric technologies that scan voices and detect anomalies.
“Human voices are as unique as fingerprints, but speech recognition technology alone may not be enough to detect that a voice has been cloned. Conversational biometric technology, on the other hand, goes further. It uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze more than 1,000 voice characteristics, including vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure, to validate a caller’s identity within the first few seconds of an interaction. There is also technology that can determine whether a voice is real (human) or synthetic (fake), ”he says.
Another protective layer on top of voice biometrics is behavioral biometrics, which measures how a person interacts with a device. Analyzing the way they type, touch, slide, or even hold the phone can help determine if they are who they say they are.
“Because these technologies cannot be compromised in the same way as knowledge-based security methods such as passwords and PINs, and because they help secure real identities and prevent fraudsters to defraud both customers and employees, they are increasingly used by sophisticated people. companies as an effective authentication tool in this era of ever-increasing digital interactions, ”concludes Beranek.