28th October 2021

Fighting fraud and delivering frictionless customer experience

with Abhinav Anand, Chief Product Officer, Smartnumbers
with Abhinav Anand, Chief Product Officer, Smartnumbers

By Abhinav Anand

There’s nothing fraudsters love more than disruption and uncertainty. And in the last year, we’ve all had a little bit more disruption and uncertainty than we expected.

This is a fertile breeding ground for fraud, and sure enough, fraud cases have risen some 63% over the past year. That means contact centres now have to work much harder to protect themselves and their customers from fraud. But at the same time, it’s more important than ever to offer a smooth, streamlined customer experience. So how do you do that?

I recently spoke at the TAD Summit, discussing how to fight fraud and deliver a frictionless customer experience in the contact centre. Here are the top line thoughts and recommendations I outlined in my talk.

An evolving fraud landscape

Today, the overwhelming majority of fraud cases are either card or authorised push payment (APP) fraud. This generally means a fraudster will either get hold of the customer’s card details or they’ll trick the victim into making large bank transfers themselves. 

It might not seem like this has much to do with the contact centre but, according to the Aite Group, an overwhelming 61% of fraud cases pass through the contact centre at some stage. Fraudsters often use the telephony and IVR channels to perform reconnaissance, gaining the information they need to effectively carry out card or APP fraud elsewhere. There are several ways they might do this:

  • IVR fraud – Using the IVR system to validate information like recent transactions, which they can use to conduct fraud through other channels more successfully. 
  • Catch and release – Fraudsters contact the bank to validate payments that have been flagged as fraudulent elsewhere. 
  • SIM swap – Gaining control of a customer’s phone number so they can bypass multi-factor authentication when committing fraud through mobile or app. 

As well as this, fraudsters are also very skilled at gaining information and access by spreading attacks across multiple channels and organisations. Without real-time shared intelligence between a bank and a phone provider, for instance, it can be difficult to get the context needed to stay protected. So, how can contact centres ensure they stop fraud in its tracks?

Striking a balance

When faced with the risk of fraud, companies traditionally have responded by adding more and more security questions onto customers’ calls. This could be either through the interactive voice response (IVR) system or directly from the contact centre agent themselves. But as fraud cases continue to rise, contact centres have placed more and more knowledge-based authentication (KBA) questions into their systems, in order to protect themselves and their customers from fraud. This has two key drawbacks:

  • The customer experience is affected, with customers having to spend more time on the call answering tedious security questions and before achieving their goal. 
  • It costs money for the contact centre. Asking more questions means longer calls and fewer security questions contained within the IVR. All of these have a monetary value.

This arrangement doesn’t work for either customer or contact centre. What’s needed is a solution that achieves both fraud prevention and customer authentication by design. That’s where Smartnumbers comes in. 

Smartnumbers Protect: A better deal for customers and contact centres

One of the key challenges that contact centres face is the inability to distinguish a genuine caller from a spoofed number. In the UK, caller identification is privileged information. This means very few organisations can see the real phone number behind a private or spoofed number. Smartnumbers, however, is one of these organisations. 

This means we can objectively tell whether or not a customer is calling from the phone number they claim to be using. As well as this, we have a wide range of behavioural analysis that can help identify potential fraudsters. This could include anything from analysing the caller’s location to seeing that they’ve made 1000 calls in the last hour. 

With this information, we build a detailed picture of a caller’s risk profile before they’ve even connected with the IVR or contact centre agent. From there, contact centres can more effectively catch these fraudsters before they have the chance to obtain sensitive information from the call. 

As well as preventing fraud, Smartnumbers Protect also offers a better deal for customers. Only 0.2% of all contact centre calls are potential fraud risks. That means the remaining 99.8% of perfectly genuine customers can be offered a much smoother ride through authentication, which vastly upgrades the customer experience. And with shorter calls, organisations also save money:

  • Increased IVR containment – Smartnumbers Protect saves organisations on average £3.50 per call simply by ensuring more calls can be contained within the IVR system.
  • Reducing agent call times – When an in-person conversation is still needed, 80% of conversations can be reduced by 10-20 seconds due to fewer KBA questions. This saves on average £0.13 per call. 

With Smartnumbers Protect, everyone wins. Except, of course, the fraudsters. 

If you want to find out more about Smartnumbers in action, get in touch with our team.