June 18, 2012
Voice Classification Technology Could Provide Unprecedented Opportunities For Customer-Facing Organizations
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Speech technology has brought call centers and customer service organizations a variety of benefits. While the touch-tone interactive voice response (IVR) solution has been around for a long time, only in the last decade have a majority of them begun to be directed by speech recognition. While speech recognition wasn't particularly robust or accurate in its earliest days, the technology has come a long way, and has enabled an important self-service channel that customers are willing to use and interact with.
It’s possible that we've only just begun to see the benefits of speech technology in the customer-facing enterprise. Voice classification may help call centers in unprecedented ways; at its heart, voice classification is voice biometric technology storing multiple voiceprints for categorization, characterization, and security purposes. A voiceprint is as unique an identifier as a finger print or a retinal scan, but considerably less intrusive than either of those things. Depending on a number of factors – gender, age, physical condition, ethnicity, and the length and thickness of the vocal cords – everyone inevitably has a unique voiceprint.
While using voiceprints for security authentication seems a little James Bond-like, the technology is already being utilized by security-sensitive industries across the globe. While it's a compelling future prospect for call centers, security isn't the only reason it peaks an interest; another important factor is the kind of marketing and demographic information voice classification technology could provide, according to speech technology company Plum Voice.
“The advantage of utilizing a voice classification system lies in the fact that it is a noninvasive, intuitive way to procure information about biological traits of a caller. Callers can be uniquely identified and then summarily classified upon calling, simply by speaking their responses,” a Plum Voice company blogger wrote.
While few companies are willing to interrogate their customers over their age and ethnic information, chances are, they'd love to know. While it helps to better understand who your customers are, not everyone reacts well to being asked what their age is when they call to purchase an item or make a complaint.
“[Voice recognition] systems that incorporate VC technology are often intuitively able to identify and classify caller characteristics simply by utilizing a mathematical algorithm,” writes Plum Voice. “If this algorithm is accurate, it eliminates the need to survey callers about inherent characteristics and can simply and effectively categorize them while they speak.”
Ultimately, the use of voice classification could provide call centers and marketing and sales departments with the kind of information they have always hoped to collect, but simply don't have time to request – or don't want to risk alienating their customers over.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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