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A Guide to Intelligent Authentication in Contact Centres

Safeguarding customer data while providing seamless customer experience and service has become a balancing act for contact centres worldwide. Combining ease of use and security is becoming more difficult, especially as fraudsters become more sophisticated. However, the rise of AI has presented a solution via intelligent authentication in contact centres. This presents a possibility for transforming the way contact centres operate. To help you get a better understanding of intelligent authentication and the role it plays in contact centres, we’ve compiled this guide.

Introduction to Intelligent Authentication in Contact Centres

Intelligent authentication is a piece of AI technology that helps with customer identification and verification by delivering multi-factor authentication without needing to use any hardware or software-based authentication credentials. It uses technologies such as voice biometrics and behavioural analytics and device profiling to help make customer identification and verification smoother.

According to an Opus Research report in 2020, using intelligent authentication is also cost-effective, as it can save money on each call. As agents spend on average 30 to 45 seconds authenticating customer calls, this amount can be substantial. Moreover, intelligent authentication reduces potential threats by using ANI (automatic number identification) validation, allowing contact centres to deliver high quality services securely and efficiently.

One massive benefit for contact centres is that intelligence authentication has opened the door to the implementation of caller authentication, which is crucial for maintaining the security of personal and private data.

Benefits of Intelligent Authentication in Contact Centres

The effective deployment of intelligent authentication in contact centres delivers a range of benefits. These are tangible and immediate, and also play a vital role in advancing the long-term objectives of customer-facing businesses.

Enhanced Customer Experience

One of the many benefits is the enhanced customer experience that intelligent authentication offers. Clients will no longer need to go through tedious and time-consuming manual verification processes, as intelligent authentication will make the process quicker and smoother, which improves the customer’s association with your brand. The Theo Paphitis Retail Group (TPRG) benefited from Cirrus’ omni-channel platform, reporting that within 6 months of deployment, the percentage of calls answered improved by more than 2% and TPRG’s average speed to answer improved by 18 seconds.

Improved Operational Efficiency

Intelligent authentication contributes significantly to operational efficiency. Quick identification and validation procedures mean agents can allocate more time addressing customers’ problems rather than validating their identities. This boosts productivity levels across the board. Premium Credit uses Cirrus’ IVR system to handle more than 6,500 transactions automatically each month, enabling advisors to spend time on more value-adding customer-focused tasks.

Robust Security Measures

In the digital age, security is paramount, especially in contact centres where sensitive information abounds. This is exactly what intelligent authentication offers. It provides robust security measures against threats such as identity theft or data breaches making it an essential tool in safeguarding client information.


There’s also an economic angle. The efficient allocation of resources facilitated by intelligent authentication reduces overheads allowing firms to channel savings into other avenues for enhancing growth.

Implementing intelligent authentication resets standards for how contact centres should operate, with the focus being on delivering exceptional service while maintaining full-proof security measures and operational efficiencies.

Caller Authentication

Caller authentication is an essential component of intelligent authentication in contact centres, and verifies the identity of a caller before providing any service or sensitive information. It acts like a barrier to fraud and ID spoofing attempts, ensuring that the person communicating with the contact centre is exactly who they claim to be, thus safeguarding customer data.

Types of Caller Authentication

Passive Authentication

Passive authentication is an automated process that silently scrutinises behaviour patterns without disrupting user interaction flow. By employing technology such as ANI validation (which cross references incoming calls with customer records) and voice biometrics using voice recognition from previous calls, it can verify a caller’s identity without requiring any input from the caller. One major benefit of passive authentication is that it requires minimal effort from both operators and customers, while protecting security.

Active Authentication

Active authentication involves direct participation from both ends – caller and agent – for identity validation. This could entail callers providing agents with a number of identifiers, such as a PIN, secret question or one time password. Although relatively more tedious, active authentications perform well where high-risk transactions are concerned and warrant an elevated level of security.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Remember when you last accessed your bank account or email platform? You were likely greeted by the familiar two-step verification process of attempting to validate your identity through more than one means, such as requiring something you know (like a password) and something you possess (like a phone).

Multi-factor authentication, also known as MFA, represents a pivotal method in intelligent authentication for contact centres. MFA consists of combining two or more independent credentials, or unique factors that are considered irrefutable evidence of a user’s authenticity, to validate that the person is who they say they are.

The reason that there needs to be more than one form of verification is to ensure that there are no data breaches or spoofing. If one credential does not suffice, then the chances of the call continuing decreases, and will alert the agent that something might not be right.

There are three tiers that businesses such as contact centres can employ when setting up multi-factor authentication.

  1. Knowledge factors: These are mostly represented by passwords and PINs – anything that the user must recall.
  2. Possession factors: These are auxiliary devices like OTP tokens and SMS notifications sent to mobile phones.
  3. Inherence factors: This exciting frontier focuses on unique physical characteristics intrinsic to each individual – think fingerprint scans and facial recognition software.

By tailoring intelligent authentication solutions around these three pillars in your contact centre operations, you’ll have substantial defences against fraud. However, the challenge lies in balancing advanced security mechanisms without hindering the effortless customer experience that modern users crave.

Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

Knowledge-based authentication, commonly referred to as KBA, is a security protocol employed by businesses and organisations for verifying users’ identities. Have you ever been asked about your mother’s maiden name or your first pet while on a call with customer service? That’s KBA. The idea behind KBA is simple – it presents the caller with questions where the answers are supposedly only known by the legitimate user. There are predominantly two types.

  1. Static: In cases where static KBA is leveraged, customers establish their answers at the time of creating their profile or account.
  2. Dynamic: This type of KBA relies on generating queries from up-to-the-minute public and private data records about the clients.

Despite widespread application, it’s crucial to recognise the strengths and drawbacks associated with KBA.

One advantage of KBA is its convenience. It doesn’t require any additional hardware or software solutions since question-and-answer schemes can easily integrate with existing systems.

However, there also exist gaps in knowledge-based verification processes because they’re susceptible to social engineering attacks where fraudsters trick individuals into revealing personal information. An emerging concern lies in how static questions tend to hinge upon information readily available or what could be guessed by criminals.


Each type of caller authentication has distinctive attributes and uses in intelligent authentication for contact centres. This helps protect sensitive data and ensures greater trust from the customer.

Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, noted: “When it comes to authentication, the appropriate method doesn’t necessarily mean choosing one type over another but striking an appropriate balance with due consideration given to security needs and user experience. The right combination is potent proof of intelligent authentication’s value in modern contact centres.”

ANI Validation and ANI Match

ANI, or automatic number identification, plays an indispensable role in intelligent authentication processes for a contact centre. It provides crucial information about the caller’s identity by validating and matching their phone number, strengthening security while streamlining user experience. This information may also be also known as ANI validation and ANI match.

ANI Validation

ANI validation refers to the process by which an incoming call’s originating phone number is inspected. Collected partly through conversation analytics, the idea is that the number should match against records in your database – verifying that it really does belong to the client who claims to be on the line. This mechanism acts as a primary line of defence in filtering out potential imposters.

Furthermore, during this validation method, any discrepancies such as mismatched area codes or missing digits could prompt further scrutiny. This fundamental step plays a substantial role in preventing spoofing threats, which are just one of the challenges intelligent authentication strategies tackle.

ANI Match

ANI match is a more sophisticated approach where not only is there a check on whether a claimed phone number matches known records, but details like contact history and behavioural patterns are brought into consideration. If anomalies are detected such as unfamiliar calling patterns or non-typical hours for calling, smart flags can be raised for enhanced verification measures.

Integrating ANI validation and matching into your existing framework can greatly enhance both security procedures and service quality in contact centres deploying intelligent authentication processes.

Best Practices for Intelligent Authentication in Contact Centres

A careful balance between security and customer experience is required when implementing caller authentication in a contact centre. The verification process needs to be efficient and unobtrusive, so as not to alienate your customer. Below are a few best practices to consider.

Consistent Application of Procedures

Consistent application procedures are one of the most important things to do when rolling out caller authentication. Businesses need to ensure that their chosen method(s) are applied to all touch points consistently, so that errors do not occur and customers do not get confused.

Meticulous Staff Training

Caller authentication is dependent on the implemented systems and the competence of staff to operate them. Businesses need to ensure that they offer the correct training to have a team that can understand and apply all aspects of caller authentication.

Regular System Upgrades

Technology continues to evolve constantly, especially in telecommunications and cybersecurity. Keeping pace with these changes is essential for maintaining robust intelligent authentication systems that effectively thwart emerging threats effectively.

Privileged User Verification

Extra caution should be applied when dealing with privileged user accounts. Those with access rights beyond standard-level users such as admin personnel or IT staff need to use advanced methods like KBA, along with multi-factor checks.

Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, says: “Providing robust security needn’t hamper user experience. It’s about finding a balance that simultaneously safeguards against threats and offers callers quick, hassle-free access to services.”

Challenges of Implementing Intelligent Authentication into Contact Centres

Adopting any AI-based technology or system such as intelligent authentication can present its share of challenges. From the integration of the system into existing infrastructure to resistance from customers, businesses need to be aware of how to tackle these challenges.


During integration, it is quite likely that you’ll encounter technical hurdles. It is important to have a good understanding of how the current system works and how integration and intelligent authentication will impact it before starting the process.


Consumer preference varies between quick resolution time and secure procedures when interacting with contact centres. They may be resistant to adopting a different procedure, especially if it revolves around private financial data, as they may fear they will get hacked or spoofed.

Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory guidelines governing data privacy and protection such as GDPR pose yet another challenge. Ensuring that your chosen solution complies can add an extra layer of complexity during implementation.


In simple terms, spoofing is a practice where people deliberately falsify information and transmit it to various customer touchpoints. One of the most prominent touchpoints is mobile phones, where spoofers may falsify the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen and can cause numerous issues for contact centres and customers alike.

For customers, spoofing can cause them to give out sensitive information, leading to them being hacked or their identity stolen. Beyond hurting individuals, such breaches also tarnish the reputation of companies, and erode customer trust.

For agents, especially in contact centres, it can cause huge challenges, as they will find it harder to contact customers or even get in touch with potential new ones. It also severely undermines the ANI validation method, creating a loophole in security protocols, which can lead to unauthorised access to sensitive customer information.


Intelligent authentication in contact centres is not only a necessity, but a key driver for offering a superior customer experience combined with security. The considerable advantages offered by these technology-infused verification solutions include improved security protocols, enhanced caller experience, accrued operational efficiencies, and a substantial reduction in agent workload.

Although challenges may occur when integrating intelligent authentication in contact centres, it is ultimately an investment worth making, as customers will demand the highest levels of service and security.