The Ultimate Guide to Customer Identification & Authentication

Is your contact center well-versed in customer authentication best practices? Or do you still need help to establish who your legitimate customers are?
Learn the why’s and how’s of customer authentication with this guide and take the first step towards CX revolution, with an understanding of:

• What is customer authentication?
• The many barriers to customer verification
• Ways to establish customer authenticity
• How does customer authentication work?




What is Customer Identification & Authentication-

What is Customer Identification & Authentication?

Customer Authentication and Contact Center or Company Operations

Customer Authentication and Contact Center or Company Operations

Different Types of Customer Authentication

Different Types of Customer Authentication

How Customer Identification & Authentication Works-

How Customer Identification & Authentication Works?

Which is Better for your Contact Center - Active or Passive Authentication-
Which is Better for your Contact Center - Active or Passive Authentication?
Benefits of Customer Authentication

Benefits of Customer Authentication

Customer Authentication Best Practices

Customer Authentication Best Practices

NovelVox’s Stand on Chatbot Automation

Customer Authentication - How NovelVox Can Help?



As call volumes across contact centers peak, it becomes necessary to identify customers properly. While customer authentication is indispensable to ensure secure operation, it should not get in the way of delivering competent customer service. This itself warrants the need to strike a balance between the CX and Authentication.
Bad caller authentication practices can hamper your agents from delivering a delightful customer experience.
caller authentication practices
Thus, Customer Identification & Authentication is also a crucial component of your overall service experience.

Authentication and Customer Experience

For many customers, calling a contact center is a dreaded task usually met with frustration and antiquated customer identification methods. In the backdrop of an ultra-competitive market situation, contact centers should be able to impress and delight customers with the help of a seamless CX. And a seamless customer authentication process is at the very heart of it.
The tedious process of authentication requires agents to ask customers for their personal information like name, email address, and contact number. Asking for this information on the first level of interaction might seem fine for a handful of customers, but most would be frustrated. On top of that, if the repetition of information extends to every agent the customer talks to across channels, winning customer loyalty would be a far-fetched idea.

Why do Agents Need to Ask for Customer Information Repetitively?

Customers today have several channels to connect with agents besides traditional phone calls. This includes many digital mediums like social media, voice, chat, instant messaging, etc. In disparate systems, multiple touchpoints of communication can fragment interactions and make agents repeat the authentication and identification process with every iteration. This eventually leads to extended Average Handle Time (AHT) and a subsequent poor service experience.
For this reason, organizations need to adopt the right technological solutions that can automate the callers’ identification and authentication process without pestering the customers with repetitive questions.
What is Customer Identification & Authentication?


Decades ago, nearly all transactions were carried out in person, which means verifying a customer’s identity was rarely ever thought of. But in the present scenario, identity frauds are all-pervasive. Contact centers are slowly recognizing this ubiquitous threat and have started paying heed to the management of sensitive customer data.

Caller authentication refers to the verification of a person’s identity without having to interact with them in person. In essence, it is about leveraging the latest technologies to enable customers to prove their identity while physically absent. The caller authentication process requires companies to identify, authenticate, and validate an individual’s data and real identity based on various parameters like passwords, customer IDs, OTPs, etc.

This simple step not only ensures the safety and security of customer data but also enables contact centers to do more for their customers by offering a range of self-service options.

Different industry verticals, including banking, retail, telecoms, etc., deploy different approaches like two-factor verification to authenticate the customers and make their services more secure. With a potential rise in call volume, contact centers need to deploy automation to ensure a customer-friendly authentication process that combats the threat of spoofing while ensuring a delightful CX.

Reasons for Bad Customer Authentication

According to Pindrop, “41% of consumers blame the brand for the fraud happening and churn the company after three or fewer bad experiences.”

This may sound extreme, but customers don’t want to compromise on a delightful CX in the face of identity verification.
customer authentication Process
Customer Authentication and Contact Center or Company Operations


The convenience of conducting business online has also brought added risks- customer verification being one. Authentication is tantamount to a strong security strategy, but it is not free of challenges. Explore what hinders the adoption of strong customer authentication practices.


While authenticating customers, contact centers or companies face significant challenges like


⦾ Disconnected communication among teams
⦾ Managing the massive volume of data
⦾ State of operational complexity
⦾ Disconnected procedure
⦾ Disparate data source
⦾ Operations on different authentication platforms
⦾ Controlling data movement
⦾ Fraud-related risk
⦾ Data privacy concern

Contemporary CX trends
A growing fear of these challenges and trends is impacting the operational capabilities of companies and customer experience as a result.


Conventionally, companies were approaching the IT department and considering the customer authentication process as an IT issue. But now, companies are making customer identification & authentication a crucial component of customer experience.

As discussed in chapter 3, poor customer communication complicates the authentication process. Thus, a need arises for companies and contact centers to march ahead by automating their workflows through conversational AI to authenticate customers and ensure a superior CX.

How Unification Simplifies Customer Authentication Process in Contact Center?

Unifying disparate contact center applications helps automate the conventional customer authentication process. With an integrated view of customer information, agents can identify the caller even before answering the interaction, thus simplifying the Passive authentication process. On the other hand, integrating advanced third-party authentication applications helps enable an effective Active authentication process.

Also, by leveraging the power of bots, agents can automate customer Identification & Authentication processes across different channels and identify the callers quickly before answering the calls. This, in turn, eliminates the process of repeating information while improving AHT and enhancing customer satisfaction scores.

Usually, contact centers prefer two common approaches:

⦿ Integration with CRMs – The solutions backed by automation seamlessly integrate with backend databases and third-party and CRM applications to identify callers directly from their numbers.

⦿ Integration with Multifactor Authentication Applications – By integrating solutions with third-party voice applications, contact centers can easily authenticate callers based on voice patterns, behavior, and profile matches.

This third-party business applications’ integration reflects the agent’s workspace through screen pops and provides relevant detailed customer information, including the first level of interaction channel – via Bots or IVR. This helps agents quickly authenticate customers even before answering the call and offer a delightful service experience without making them repeat the context repeatedly.

Different Types of Customer Authentication


Caller’s Identification & Authentication can operationally handle authentication in 2 ways:

1. Active Authentication – On-Call Authentication

2. Passive Authentication – Pre-Answer Authentication

Active Authentication - On-Call Authentication

Active or On-Call Authentication refers to the standard process or method of authenticating the callers or customers in their presence. It means callers participate in the authentication process. Agents just need to ask a few questions related to knowledge-based to ascertain the true identity of the callers.
Active authentication is no longer viable as it leaves the door open to fraud to breach or illegally access data. There is a noticeable drawback in validating callers’ identities through an active authentication system, as there is no mechanism to verify whether or not the user initially authenticated is still on call. And if a password is compromised, unauthorized individuals can illegally access data system resources.
The solution here could be to either deploy password-less authentication or harden the passwords with multiple parameters like strong password entropy, deploy hashing algorithms, implement cross-check processes, etc.

Benefits of Deploying Active Authentication

Benefits of Deploying Passive Authentication

Passive Authentication - Pre-Answer Authentication

Passive Authentication or Pre-Answer Authentication is validating the callers without interacting with them, i.e., authenticating customers or callers before being connected to the agents. Various leading companies are driving passive authentication with the help of AI-based Conversational Engagement that instantly and automatically authenticates customers before an agent answers the call.
Leveraging passive authentication systems and advanced unified communication tools helps agents access customer information before answering calls. It helps them to deliver personalized CX while reducing AHT by eliminating required actions on behalf of the callers & agents together.

Benefits of Deploying Passive Authentication

Benefits of Deploying Active Authentication

Different Methods to Identify & Authenticate callers

Cyber-crimes have grown more sophisticated in recent years. Authenticating and verifying customers has become a necessity vis-à-vis just an alternative to impress customers. Whether you choose an active or passive authentication process, you should focus on deploying secure methods to authenticate the callers.

Here is a list of some sophisticated authentication methods used to secure the systems

1. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
2. Multi-Factor Authentication – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) includes two or more independent ways (codes, Captcha tests, fingerprints, voice biometrics, or facial recognition) to identify a customer.
3. Biometric Authentication – Voice-based Authentication
4. Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)
5. Password-based Authentication
6. One-Time Passcode (OTP) Authentication via SMS & Email

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

This method combines two different layers of security – the first layer is a Username & Password, and the Second layer is a One-Time Password (OTP). It means that even after using a username & password, the user cannot immediately access the data or transaction. They have to undergo a second round of verification in which they receive OTP via SMS or email.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Multi-Factor Authentication

In the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) method, callers or customers must provide two or more verification factors to access the resource. Besides usernames and passwords, agents deploy sophisticated and secure verification factors (codes, voice biometrics, facial recognition, etc.) to identify a customer. MFA strengthens the safety level and decreases the likelihood of any cybercrime.

Biometrics Authentication

Agents consider the unique biological characteristics of an individual to authenticate their real identity in the Biometrics Authentication method. The physical parameters are easy to compare to authorized features saved in a database. Consumers, governments, and private corporations commonly deploy this authentication method. There are different parameters based on which you can do biometric authentication, like Voice Recognition, Facial Recognition, Eye Scanner, Fingerprint Scanner, etc.
Biometrics Authentication

Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

Most contact centers deploy a Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) method to validate customer identity. In this method, the agent will ask a specific and random question from callers that are impossible for a scammer to attempt the answer. For example, a caller can have a general security question like your father’s helper’s name. You can ask different KBA questions, including static, dynamic, MCQs, etc.

Password-Based Authentication

Password is the most commonly used method to protect the database. Contact center agents ask callers to create a strong password during the first interaction. Always create robust and complex passwords for better safety. There are many drawbacks to adopting password-based authentication. First, it is impossible to remember complex passwords; second, passwords are prone to cyber-attacks like phishing.

One-Time Passcode (OTP) Authentication via SMS & Email

One-Time Passcode or Password (OTP) authentication is a part of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). It is considered a secure method to validate callers’ identities accurately. OTP is an automatically generated passcode comprising characters like numbers, letters, or a mix of both that is valid for a single login session or transaction. Every OTP has a specific time limit; if it exceeds, an algorithm will be deployed to create a new code and share it via SMS and email.
How Customer Identification & Authentication Works?


Traditionally, the customer authentication process matches the user input with existing customer records such as name, date of birth, address, and social security numbers to accurately verify the customer. But this is a time-consuming process that leaves the door open for fraud. This has led to the evolution of new authentication options.
On a broad level, customer authentication and verification take place in 3 generic steps:
customer authentication and verification
However, your authentication process is also determined by what type of authentication you choose – Active Authentication or Passive Authentication.
This chapter demonstrates the working process for both authentication types.

How does Post Answer (Active) Authentication work?

As elaborated in chapter 4, you can initiate active authentication in the presence of customers means that here identification & authentication process starts post answering the call. Once the agent connects with the caller, he can validate the identity through different methods:
Pre-Answer (Passive) Authentication

How does Pre-Answer (Passive) Authentication work?

Passive Authentication makes quick and instant caller authentication even before answering the call, which is why it is also known as Pre-Answer authentication. Leveraging passive or pre-call authentication saves time and resources, helps agents enhance their productivity, and focuses solely on ensuring quick customer resolution and delightful CX.
A combination of biometric and behavioral verification and device authentication can help you achieve passive authentication. Conversational AI automates the authentication process; let’s see how?

1. The customer or caller initiates an inbound call into the IVR, and then it routes to the agent.
2. Immediately, the agent receives multi-factor or biometric authentication status on their screen before answering the call.
3. Then the agent authenticates the caller through

Post Answer (Active) Authentication

How does Biometric Authentication work?

Biometric authentication works on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. It validates customers’ identities by analyzing their voice characteristics.


The first agent conducts the standard authentication processes. As a caller talks to the agent, the system will take a sample of the caller’s speech for at least 30 seconds. This voice sample collection can be done naturally or ask callers to repeat the phrase. The system will store the voiceprint of the caller on its database.


When the caller calls again through IVR, he can be asked to say a few key phrases. Further, the system compares this temporary voiceprint with the stored voiceprint; if there is a positive match, then the agent will answer the call by addressing the caller with their name. It will not only personalize the customer interaction process but also save the agents’ time so that they focus on addressing customer queries quickly.

Validation of Caller Identity in Pre-Answer Authentication

A customer or caller is authenticated against the following parameters for accurate verification:

⦿ ANI Validation
In this, confirmation is made based on device use. ANI Validation confirms that a call is coming from the caller’s device and is not spoofed.

⦿ ANI Match
Automatic Number Identification (ANI) is an advanced telephony service that enables agents to capture and display the phone number making the call. It searches from an existing database, making authentication easier if it is a positive match.

The threat in Pre-Answer Authentication - Call Spoofing

Call spoofing is a typical cyber-attack in the customer authentication process. In this, the caller deliberately manipulates the ANI, i.e., replacing their calling number with the number of a real customer.

Solution of Call Spoofing - ANI Validation + ANI Match

Combining ANI Validation and ANI Match can effectively combat the threat of Call Spoofing. Companies can keep checking to ensure that ANI has not been changed or manipulated through the ANI Validation process. Once a company has a trusted Caller ID, it can then match it to the existing database through Two-factor authentication. This way, ANI Match + ANI Validation strengthens the security process.
Which is Better for your Contact Center - Active or Passive Authentication?


So far, we have explored the benefits of Active and Passive Authentication. Each has its own set of features and advantages. But when it comes to choosing the right authentication method, which one should you opt for? Here, it becomes important to consider the risk factors, keeping in mind that every transaction or event would not be equal in terms of risk factors.

1. Low-Risk Transaction

There are events or transactions that have a low-risk factor involved. In such scenarios, businesses can deploy active authentication to validate the identity of the callers. Since the risk of fraud is limited, agents can opt for a two-factor authentication method, including- a username & password and a One-Time Passcode or Password (OTP).

If it is a Low-risk transaction, agents can deploy other authentication methods:

⦿ Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

⦿ Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

⦿ Password-based Authentication


Use-Case of Active Authentication in Low-Risk Transactions


The retail industry involves low-risk transactions. Here, contact center agents can use Active Authentication to validate the identity of the customers. They can authenticate customers’ identities through the Two-Factor method or deploy Knowledge-Based authentication.

1. High-Risk Transaction

Businesses can deploy Per-Answer or Passive authentication methods to strengthen the validation process in the case of critical transactions involving higher risks. Agents can rely on powerful authentication methods like biometric authentications, including voice authentication, given the high risk of fraud involved. Further, a combination of ANI Validation and ANI Match can be deployed to enhance safety and combat threats like call spoofing.

If it is a High-risk transaction, then agents can deploy other authentication methods:

⦿ Multi-Factor Authentication – Codes, Voice Biometrics, or Facial Recognition.
⦿ Biometric Authentication – Voice-based Authentication


Use-Case of Passive Authentication in High-Risk Transactions


Various industries like the Business sector, Banking/Credit/Financial, Government/Military, Education, etc., are at high risk of cyber-attacks and vulnerable to the risk of sensitive data breaches. Passive Authentication is the best method to authenticate customers or callers in these high-risk transactions. Contact center agents can deploy passive strategies like Multi-factor (codes, voice, face) and Biometric authentication (voice sample and faceprint, etc.) to authenticate callers’ identity before answering their calls.

Benefits of Customer Authentication


Apart from the obvious benefit of offering a seamless identity experience to your customers, robust Customer Identification & Authentication goes a step beyond to improve your customer experience. From building customer loyalty to enhancing saving costs through reduced AHTs, caller authentication has much to offer.
Some of these benefits include:

i. Improved Customer Experience

The automation in the customer authentication process eliminates the hassle of the manual authentication process and simplifies the onboarding process to delight customers with superior CX. With an automated workflow, agents can easily authenticate and validate the true identity of the callers or customers.

ii. Enhance Agent Productivity

Managing customer authentication processes and customer interaction simultaneously can affect the agent’s productivity. The combination of AI-based authentication processes and a unified communication tool for contextual conversation drive agents’ productivity to deliver exceptional customer service.

iii. Eliminate Repetitive Information

Agents are occupied with a number of tasks in contact centers. When they have to deal with repetitive, manual, monotonous tasks – especially authenticating the customers or callers- it impacts agent productivity and motivation toward their job. Automation in customer authentication frees agents to take care of more important issues while significantly reducing errors and keeping information up-to-date.

iv. Improve Average Handle Time (AHT)

Automating customer identification & authentication process with the help of unified customer view, and third-party integrations help agents to streamline their operations. Through automation, agents can automatically and instantly authenticate the callers’ identities before answering the call. While answering the call, the agent can solely focus on listening to customers and address their queries during the first contact itself, thereby improving customer satisfaction.

Read on to learn about key contact center KPIs for enhanced agent productivity 

v. Reducing Data Breach
According to cloud nine, 81% of hacking-related data breaches are due to stolen and weak passwords. The key benefit of identifying & authenticating customers through two-factor or multi-factor authentication primarily lies in its ability to deter frauds.

vi. Improving Brand Reputation & Loyalty
Trust-building is a crucial factor that makes your customers or clients stay with you for the long haul. And trust comes when you ensure your client’s data are kept confidential. Thus, identification & authentication is the process to ensure complete safety.

Customers or callers expect a quick authentication process.
quick authentication process
Thus, automation helps companies to automatically initiate customer identification & authentication even before answering the call.
Customer Authentication Best Practices


Leading companies globally are increasingly adopting automation in customer identification and authentication processes. The primary objective is cyber-security and the empowerment of the agents to provide frictionless and personalized service experiences to customers. But some authentication tools are better suited to the task than others. With this recognition, it can come in handy to explore some of the best practices in contact center authentication to reap some positive gains.
Customer Authentication Best Practices
Customer Authentication - How NovelVox Can Help?


From enhancing CX to simplifying the customer identification & authentication process, NovelVox focuses on unifying the systems and workflow to streamline the authentication operations across different channels.
Furthermore, NovelVoxs’ AI-based conversational engagement suite offers a Passive or Pre-Answer Call authentication. It allows agents to instantly and automatically validate the callers or customers before answering the call. This passive or pre-answer authentication system makes the authentication process cost-effective while eliminating the other process of knowledge-based access (KBA) and re-authentication for transferred callers.
NovelVoxs’ AI-based conversational engagement

Customer Identification & Authentication with Contact Center Agent

NovelVox is making authentication quick and easy by unifying systems and workflows through automation and unified CX communication tools.

Here are the steps involved in identifying & authenticating callers over voice calls:

Step 1 – The caller calls into IVR.
Step 2 – The IVR routes the call to the contact center agent.
Step 3 – The agent receives the call on the unified communication tool, like the unified agent desktop, that reflects all flags and call variables to identify the call.
Step 4 – The agent screens pop-ups with the relevant customer information, like basic contact details and past interactions, before answering the call.
Step 5 – Now, the agent accepts the call and treats a caller with his first name to personalize the CX.
Step 6 – The agent can easily re-authenticate the caller’s identity through voice match by leveraging back-end integration and unified customer view.

Customer Identification & Authentication with Automation - Chatbot

What if your customer or a caller interacts with you over instant messaging channels like Social Media Channels, chatbots, WhatsApp, or LiveChat? You can automate customer identification by combining instant chat solutions like Chatbot or WhatsApp with Unified Agent Desktop.

⦿ Agents can deploy automated Chatbot solutions like InfiBot to automate the authentication process.

⦿ Simultaneously, a Unified Agent Desktop like Agent Accelerator helps the agent to continue with the contextual conversation.

Here are the steps involved in identifying & authenticating callers over Chatbot:

Step 1 – The customer or caller initiates chat on digital channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Web chat, SMS, and WhatsApp.

Step 2 – Chatbot responds to the caller personally through his name with the help of backend integration.

Step 3 – When the customer asks queries related to account balance, balance check, ticket status, and password reset, the Chatbot starts with customer authentication at this point.

Step 4 – Chatbot identifies callers through channel identifiers like Social Media ID or Mobile Number saved in the backend.

Step 5 – On successful validation chatbot sends a confirmation text to the caller.

Step 6 – The caller asks the chatbot to connect to agents for specific queries.

Step 7 – Chatbot escalates the conversation to the appropriate agents.

Step 8 – The agent on his screen receives all flags, interaction details, and chat script from the agent’s desktop.

Step 9 – The agent’s screen auto-populates relevant customer details or past interactions before initiating the conversation.

Step 10 – Customers start interacting with agents leaving the bot.

Customer Identification & Authentication over Multifactor - Voice

NovelVox understands that not all transactions are equally risk-prone. Some are low-risk, and some have high-risk transactions that require safety. For any high-risk transaction or event, NovelVox deploys a sophisticatedly safe Passive authentication method – Voice Biometrics.

In this authentication method, agents consider the unique biological characteristics of an individual – Voice to authenticate the caller’s real identity. Further, it compares voice samples to voices saved in a database from past interactions.

Here are the steps involved in identifying & authenticating callers over Voice:

Step 1 – The caller calls into IVR.
Step 2 – The IVR routes the call to the contact center agent.
Step 3 – The agent receives the call on the unified communication tool, like the unified agent desktop, that reflects all flags and call variables to identify the call.
Step 4 – ow, the agent will receive customer authentication status on the unified agent desktop through integration with third-party multi-factor authentication systems like Pindrop.

Step 5 – The application authenticates customers based on IVR behavior, ANI Match, Device used, and Voice.

Step 6 – The responses of the above parameters will display on the agent’s screen as authenticated or not authenticated.
Step 7 – In case of ‘Not Authenticated,’ the agent will receive the status of the high-risk event. Then the agent will go for the next-level verification like OTPs.

Thus, in this way, agents can authenticate callers in high-risk transactions.

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