We all joke that it’s a wise idea to stay away from politics and religion in most conversations unless you’re pretty sure of how that’s going to work out, so let me offer up another topic you can spring on people if conversation lags: ask them about the weirdest or most frustrating “identity verification” process they’ve been through. My mother was irked recently when an agent asked her who her favorite movie star is. She doesn’t even know, so how in the world would an agent be able to verify her identity on that? I had an exasperating interaction trying to buy international flights for my entire family (pre-COVID, obviously) when after an hour of setting everything up, my credit card rejected the payment, because it was mistakenly flagged as fraudulent. Grrr. The point is, everyone has a story here and it’s guaranteed to keep a conversation going. Why do we put up with this? Everyone hates it, but we all live with it, because there really hasn’t been an alternative. And it can’t be just the callers that loathe it. You’ve got to believe that agents hate it too, and that it drives Contact Center leaders nuts because it puts a damper on their efficiency, cost, CSAT and security KPIs. Bottom line: The traditional way we’ve established identity is broken.