PINDROP BLOG

ANI Validation: Fixing The Game of Telephone

It’s helpful to think about the authentication process on a spectrum, where not every customer interaction needs to face the same level of authentication requirements. For less risky interactions, fewer factors of authentication can be appropriate. Higher risk interactions, by contrast, may require more factors to authenticate.

For lower-risk interactions (those that may require two or fewer factors of authentication), Automatic Number Identification (ANI) Validation combined with ANI match can be a powerful tool to authenticate customers and help protect their information from bad actors. But regardless of how many factors may be required for a given interaction, removing at least one of the active authentication steps can help businesses improve their customers’ experiences. 

What is ANI Validation? 

ANI Validation helps determine whether a call is coming from the device that owns the number; it is unlikely that the call has been spoofed or manipulated. ANI Validation is a passive process, working behind the scenes without requiring active participation by the caller. It can be completed almost instantly once a call reaches the IVR.  

What is ANI Matching? 

An ANI represents the phone number that is calling you. On an inbound call, businesses can use the phone number calling to search their own database for a match with an existing customer account. However, an ANI match alone does not determine whether or not the number displayed on the caller ID has been spoofed or manipulated.

The Threat of Call Spoofing 

Call spoofing undermines trust in the caller ID process by allowing the calling party to manipulate the ANI. Criminals often use this tool to replace their calling number with the number of a real customer. Businesses that use ANI matching without ANI Validation run the risk of matching a spoofed number to a customer’s account. 

Combining ANI Validation with ANI Match 

For authentication purposes, ANI validation can increase the reliability of an ANI match. Pairing ANI Validation with ANI Match can replace active authentication requirements with passive ones which helps streamline the process to the benefit of customers and helps protect against bad actors. 

ANI Validation: Innovating The Customer Experience 

In the contact center world, we’ve broadly accepted the notion that each phone call is a single experience for customers. But for many, a phone call is not a singular experience at all. Instead, a phone call can consist of a series of impressions, or mini-experiences. Consider how it feels as a customer to wait on hold, enter a passcode, listen to each option in an automated menu, or converse with an agent. These steps can feel isolated, where some may carry more weight than others when the caller is asked to assess their experience overall. A barrage of security questions can be frustrating enough to cause the caller to abandon the call entirely (and perhaps the brand, too) or give up on the opportunity for self-service by repeatedly pressing ‘0’ for an agent. Waiting on hold can overshadow the stellar performance of an agent. The problem with conventional ways of measuring a customer’s overall experience, then, is the inability to fully account for which mini-experiences during the call were responsible for defining it. 

ANI Validation has innovated the customer experience by helping improve specific areas where inefficient or ineffective authentication measures can result in a caller’s bad experience. ANI Validation can also help businesses meet or exceed the rising demands of consumers, many of whom are accustomed to the flexibility, features, and freedom of digital interactions. 

Let’s deconstruct the anatomy of a phone call to isolate where many mini-experiences happen and discuss how rethinking our approach to authentication can help improve the phone call experience for customers. 

For example, let’s split the phone call into 2 phases: The Set Up and The Action. 

The Set-Up

The Set Up defines the phase of a call which must be completed before the caller can address their issue. The Set Up consists of two points for mini-experiences: 

  • Waiting On Hold
  • Authentication

The Set-Up is a necessary inconvenience for callers and can contribute to a bad mini-experience because it is not the reason for the call. Customers do not call to wait on hold or to authenticate. Unfortunately, delays, friction, or miscues can often result in customer frustration; for example, customers might share negative stories, abandon the call, or choose to do business with a competitor instead.

Luckily, the Set-Up can help improve a customer’s experience by removing or lessening their direct involvement in the authentication process. ANI Validation with VeriCall® Technology analyzes call metadata with machine learning to determine the likelihood that a call is coming from the device that owns the number. VeriCall® Technology, delivered through an API, can receive call metadata and produce a score in under 60 milliseconds. The process does not require the caller’s active participation. 

Waiting on Hold 

Waiting on hold can be inconvenient to a customer and can also cause them to abandon a call entirely. Many consumers are not willing to wait on hold for very long, if at all. The good news is that while placing callers on hold may at times be a necessity, the amount of time they wait can be reduced by lowering overall call handle time (when agents spend less time with each caller, they are free to answer more calls). Learn more about average handle time here.

Authentication

Completing authentication steps takes time, which contributes to overall average handle time. This is an ideal opportunity to apply ANI Validation which can remove active steps for customers by turning them passive and help avoid bad mini-experiences (like spelling out personal information, answering security questions, or other active participation requirements). ANI validation can also help to save the business time and related call costs for calls that can be validated. 

In our example, the second phase of a call that follows The Set-Up is The Action. 

The Action 

The Action defines the phase where a caller can begin actually addressing their issue. The Action consists of two points for mini-experiences: 

  • The IVR
  • The Agent

ANI Validation can positively impact mini-experiences in the IVR and at the Agent level in a variety of ways, but each is related to the role that ANI Validation plays in authenticating the caller passively and as early in the call process as possible. 

The IVR

ANI validation can mean that callers face fewer active authentication requirements in the IVR, particularly when it can increase the reliability of an ANI match. If a customer profile is identified using ANI match and ANI validation, the IVR can be improved in some of the following ways:

Personalization: The caller can be greeted by name, and avoid having to spell or repeat personal information like their name, address, or account number. 

Prediction: The business can bring forward IVR menu options that are likely to match why the customer is calling, like open order status, known account issues, and more. 

Menu choices: Expand the list of IVR options that are accessible to the caller.

Self-Service: Any of the above benefits can encourage the caller to consider self-service (if available), instead of abandoning the IVR for an agent prematurely. When more callers self-service, hold time, handle time, and related costs can be reduced. 

The Agent

Callers who arrive at the Agent level having already cleared two factors of authentication (ANI Validation and ANI Match) can get down to business sooner. Agents can start the conversation with the customer’s information at hand. They also avoid having to engage in frustrating Set Up activities like asking security questions. The resulting efficiency can improve caller experience while improving the agent’s experience and their performance metrics in the process. 

Conclusion

ANI Validation has the potential to transform both phases of a call, The Set Up and The Action. Because it is a passive tool that can be implemented using an API, it can deliver the capabilities your business needs to help minimize The Set Up from the caller’s perspective, help protect the call operation from spoofing, and help add efficiency to IVR and Agent interactions. These benefits can begin improving customer experience soon after implementation and can deliver return on investment in the form of handle time reduction and the related cost per call. 

To learn more about how ANI Validation has helped top US banks and telecommunications companies, visit our Case Studies.