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IVR - IVRs Improve In Dealing with Human Emotion
July 02, 2012

IVRs Improve In Dealing with Human Emotion

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The topic of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems dealing with human emotions has been a hot one for the proponents – and the opponents – of the systems alike. A Plum Voice blog explains how thanks to recent improvements developed by Shuchih Ernet Chang and Yu-Ten Jang of Taiwan's National Chung Hsing University, leading to the development of what's being called the SLAS (the Satisfaction Level Assessment System) IVR systems may be better adapted than ever to understand human emotions in users.

The SLAS system measures a set of variables contained inside sound wave patterns, attempting to look for points commonly associated with degrees of happiness and satisfaction. The system can then cross-reference those points against an overall pattern to see if the conversation is trending better or worse, then storing the data to determine overall trends based on a larger number of calls to see if particular issues are emerging that need to be addressed, as well as to work out any larger bugs in the system.

So far, the results of the SLAS' testing have proven surprisingly positive. The system can immediately detect customer satisfaction, and according to the researchers, can further detail the necessary responses to ensure the best chance of a dissatisfied caller returning to the fold. In a particularly unusual twist, it can even determine customer satisfaction to a higher degree than a human can. One particular set of tests pitted 20 people against the SLAS in a series of 12 calls. The average human accuracy rate was 62.5 percent. The SLAS, meanwhile, managed to achieve 83 percent accuracy.

If a machine can regularly, and successfully, read human emotion, perhaps one of the greatest impediments toward the activation of IVR systems is gone with the news that a machine can achieve that which even human beings can't with similar accuracy. Of course, it will remain to be seen if the SLAS can keep up its impressive spree, and just how much the SLAS will cost to implement at the user level. Still, it represents a major new opportunity in customer service.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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