2016 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards Gold Winner – Australian Taxation Office

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 American Business Awards

Company: Australian Taxation Office, North Sydney, NSW, Australia

Category: Award for the Innovative Use of Technology in Customer Service > Other Service Industries

Entry Title: Australian Taxation Office


Prior to engaging with Nuance, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) received approximately 8 million calls per year from the community, with around 75 per cent of these calls requiring an ATO agent to verify the caller’s identity. The existing authentication process required customers to provide personal details or have the correct documentation details in front of them when they called the ATO. This process was time consuming for the ATO’s contact centre agents, taking agents’ a combined total of 75,000 hours annually. In addition, it meant that regular callers needed to be continuously verified.

To solve this, the ATO set out to improve the customer experience across its contact centre, online and mobile channels through the deployment of voice biometrics, a core technology capability available from Nuance.


The ATO engaged Nuance to overcome the challenges it faced with customer engagement and strengthen the relationship with the ATO’s customers, by providing secure, fast and simple tools to verify a customer’s (taxpayer’s) identity, which in turn greatly improved the overall customer experience.

Initially, the ATO opted to deploy voice biometrics technology, delivering a faster, more secure method of identity authentication. Following the success of the voice biometrics deployment within the contact centre, the ATO chose to extend its voice biometrics offering to its mobile application, making it the first ever organisation to offer multi-channel voice biometrics and further enhancing the experience for ATO customers.

Multi-phase voice biometrics deployment:

The ATO completed its first deployment of Nuance’s VocalPassword solution in September 2014, allowing customers to recite a common passphrase to verify their identity. The ATO then completed its second-phase by implementing Nuance’s FreeSpeech solution in July 2015. This phase constituted the deployment of a passive voice biometrics solution, which allowed customers to be enrolled and subsequently verified through a natural, conversation with an agent. As a result, the ATO can now authenticate users without intrusive questioning, providing a seamless experience for customers. Jointly, the new VocalPassword and FreeSpeech voice biometrics solutions provide an added layer of security for ATO customers, helping in the goal to detect and prevent identity theft.

Following the successful introduction of the solutions, the ATO expanded the voice authentication program by integrating Nuance’s voice biometrics technology into its mobile application, giving ATO customers the ability to use a single credential for authentication across multiple channels.


Since the implementation of the Nuance voice biometrics solution across the contact centre and mobile applications, the ATO has enrolled over 1.7 million customer voiceprints in less than 18 months. Customer feedback indicates that the contact centre experience has significantly improved, with repeat callers experiencing a reduction in average handle time of approximately 45 seconds based on the enhanced authentication process.
“The streamlined authentication has allowed ATO to quickly boost call completion rates, while also improving both the customer experience and security.” John Dardo, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office, January 2016.
For more information about Nuance’s voice biometrics offering, visit http://australia.nuance.com/for-business/customer-service-solutions/voice-biometrics/index.htm .

Supporting Materials:
Government News Article: Tax Doubles Down on Voice Biometrics Speakeasy

Case Study: Transforming the User Experience

ZDNet Article: Voice Biometrics to be Commonplace in Customer Service

Presentation to Support ATO Award



https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/Voice-authentication-making-it-easier-to- access-ATO-services/



http://australia.nuance.com/company/news-room/press-releases/ATO-implements-Nuance-voice- biometrics.docx