TDECU Enrolls over 50,000 Members in Voice ID Verification Program in 9 Months


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TDECU began in 1955 when seven DOW employees each pitched in to loan a friend $5 to help with the purchase of a refrigerator. Over the decades, TDECU has grown to meet the needs of communities across Southeast Texas and provide value to financially underserved areas. Today, the Houston-based credit union has 37 service locations, manages over $4.5 B in assets, and continues its purpose to help members navigate their financial journeys while providing exceptional service. 


TDECU was seeking to provide a better call center experience for members. They faced the common problem of balancing security with convenience. According to Quaite Dodson, Director of Member Experience at TDECU, traditional authentication methods were placing a roadblock in the way of excellent service. 

“Authentication in financial services tends to be one of the elements that causes the most harm because of how rigorous questioning can become, especially with fraudsters doing social engineering. It’s not unusual to spend a third of call handle time verifying people, which is very inefficient. This can create friction with members who may not have their wallet with them or remember the model of the car they bought a decade ago.”

Quaite Dodson, Director of Member Experience, TDECU

Agents did not look forward to starting every call with a process that created a poor member experience. Kelly Gonzales, VP of Program Management, revealed that members often expressed frustration at the archaic Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA) process. “Members didn’t know why our member care analysts were taking them through this lengthy process. They often didn’t know the answers to the security questions. This created a poor experience out of the gate. It’s hard to get past that.” 


TDECU was an early investment partner in the Illuma Shield™ voice ID verification technology. The obvious choice was to implement the solution in their own call center and benefit from its value. Dodson had experience implementing a multi-million dollar competing product at a previous financial institution, and was excited to see how Illuma’s product would perform at a fraction of the cost. As a passive voice authentication solution, Illuma Shield™ made it possible to skip the KBA security questions and verify member identity through natural conversation. The solution creates a unique AudioPrint™ for each member that registers and uses that securely stored AudioPrint™to authenticate members on subsequent calls. It integrates with existing call center tools so agents don’t have to switch screens to input information and launch the verification process. 

Implementation with TDECU’s Cisco telephone system and frontend call center software took only 3 weeks, one of the fastest deployments of new technology Gonzales had seen.

The tech part was done in less than a month, then we were working on our back-office processes around communication and implementation. We went to pilot fast. From a project perspective, this is one of the most seamless projects that we’ve implemented. From start to finish, it was six months, including operationalization, customer facing deployment. We had amazing enrollment.”

– Kelly Gonzales, VP of Program Management, TDECU

Dodson agreed. “It only took us six months to reach more than 35k members enrolled with Illuma Shield™. The competing product I used at a previous credit union took a year to hit that enrollment volume, and they had twice as many members which provided many more opportunities to register new voice authentication participants.” Passive enrollment played a significant role in this high enrollment rate. With Illuma Shield™, enrollment occurs passively with no special number for members to call or passphrase to repeat. Agents simply present the registration opportunity during a member call. The member can say “yes” to the offer and continue their conversation as their AudioPrint™ is created in the background.


The issue with security questions was easy to resolve using passive voice ID verification. According to Kelly,  “It really eliminated the problem completely. Once we had the members through enrollment, they no longer have to answer the out-of-wallet questions. Illuma Shield™  captures their voiceprint and they authenticate within 15 seconds. We’ve taken members from frustration to conversing with us and being able to dive right in to answer the problem they were calling in for.”

Senior member experience manager, Carolina Ayerdis, concurred.

“It’s really added more security allowing team members to get to member concerns faster. The goal is to enroll as many people as we can to make that easier for members. When a member calls in, they have something they want resolved. Instead of asking a couple of minutes of questions verifying their identity, we can use Illuma Shield™ to shortcut that process and get straight to the member’s issue.”

Carolina Ayerdis, Senior Member Experience Manager, TDECU

Ayerdis also noted that agents find the system simple to use. “It’s really easy for them to put in the information and immediately get that response about the member being fully verified. They are very excited about using it and adopted it pretty quickly. It definitely cuts time from authentication having that procedure in place for every team member to follow.”

From an operational standpoint, reducing the time spent on member verification added up to significant gains in operational efficiency. Dodson pointed to the savings in being able to address more calls with their in-house team of member care analysts instead of outsourcing to a BPO. “By becoming more efficient in the calls we handle, we can take more calls, serve more members, and reduce costs. Our handle times go down and our agents are more productive, which means fewer calls go to our BPO partner.” 

For TDECU, serving more members within their own call center environment reduces costs and helps ensure the highest quality of service on every call. Adding voice authentication for the BPO is a possibility in the future as well.

Key Benefits

  • Directly address and resolve a common frustration based on member feedback
  • Create a better member experience on every call for enrolled participants
  • Offer an upgraded authentication process that requires no effort from members
  • Take strides in accomplishing digital transformation goals
  • Reduce authentication time on calls from 1-2 minutes to less than 15 seconds
  • Improve agent productivity by reducing call handle time and member frustration level
  • Reduce operational costs by handling more calls in-house vs. sending to a BPO
  • Implement a dramatically more secure and streamlined authentication solution within a month
  • Speed enrollment more than 2x compared to competing products


“I was blown away coming from some of the big players in the industry. The multi-million dollar product I’ve worked with before trying Illuma Shield™ is less efficient and more complex.”

–  Quaite Dodson, Director of Member Experience, TDECU

“It’s been a great partnership. Milind and team have been extremely attentive and provided a smooth implementation. Now, we are able to better protect members, get straight to their concerns, and provide best in class service that we strive for.”

– Kelly Gonzales, VP of Program Management, TDECU