Magazine article Public Finance

The Value of VRA

Magazine article Public Finance

The Value of VRA

Article excerpt

The public sector is under increasing pressure to become more efficient and improve customer service. One area constantly in the spotlight is the management of the benefits process. It is essential for local authorities to ensure that those who need benefits most receive them, and those who are not entitled do not.

So what should the public sector be doing to ensure citizens are getting the right benefits? One possible solution is to use voice risk analysis (VRA) as part of the process. But what are the challenges and advantages involved?

There are often misconceptions associated with VRA, particularly that it is synonymous with a 'lie detector'. It is true that the underlying technology analyses changes in the voice freguency of a caller and alerts the operator to responses that indicate potential risk. The operator can then form their own judgement of risk based on both VRA and behavioural risk analysis skills, in which they are also trained.

But, unlike a lie detector, the user would never make a decision based on the results alone and must always have supporting evidence. VRA can enable local authorities to double-check claimants are getting the right benefit and, if there are no concerns, fast-track them through the rest of the process, potentially cutting down the paper verification reguired.

The main purpose is to guickly identify the majority of claimants who are honest. On average, more than 70% are assessed as 'low risk' and so are paid more quickly.

Besides improving customer service, VRA can protect councils from fraudulent claims. Where a case is identified as having potential risk, it acts as a trigger for further verification. This ability to identify risk reduces authorities' exposure to fraudulent claims by managing them more effectively.

As with any new technology, initial implementation obstacles are predictable. Key questions for councils using VRA are:

* Does VRA generate sufficient savings in the process to justify the investment?

* What are the training and staffing requirements?

* Can the process be robustly implemented in-house or is a specialist managed service required?

* How will customers be advised and any concerns managed?

Employees may resist changes to a process that has been used for years, be reluctant to learn new technology or oppose moving from a paper-based process to a paperless system. …

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