CRM Evolution and the Customer Service Experience offered new insights and applications, but SpeechTEK was the showcase for technological breakthroughs making their debut in New York. Exhibitors presented many exciting new products and introduced new solutions which are summarized below.
Angel, www.angel.com a leading provider of cloud-based Customer Experience Management solutions, introduced Lexee, a new self-service solution that voice activates any mobile application. Lexee is a product of Angel Labs, a new division dedicated to developing forward-thinking solutions.
With over one billion mobile applications being downloaded each month, Lexee enables companies to quickly provide a voice-activated iOS or Android mobile solution to their customers, track the impact of their mobile solutions with analytics and discover trends in customer behavior and empower their users to be more productive and flexible on-the-go.
Angel also announced a Lexee software development kit (SDK) which features a Web-based “point and click” application that does not require any coding background, making it easy for businesses to build and deploy fully conversational mobile voice assistants. Lexee goes beyond the standard voice assistant, empowering businesses to have conversations with their customers, and providing a new engagement channel that helps create a more personalized customer experience.
Angel’s Lexee is incorporated in a new Salesforce.com mobile application, which allows users to verbally request information and reports to be pulled from their Salesforce.com account. Instead of users searching for information manually, Lexee enables mobile applications to perform tasks and execute transactions such as updating sales information or quickly pulling reports--all by voice commands.
Reader’s Digest plans to incorporate Lexee into a customer service app that will be made available to their vast subscriber base which the publisher will promote with a major online push to encourage downloads. The app will provide users with a self-service voice option to make address changes, renew subscriptions or pay bills.
Businesses will be able to determine how users are accomplishing the transactions they want to complete. Since Lexee is built off Angel’s customer experience platform which includes Caller First Analytics, companies can track the effectiveness of their mobile applications, discover trends in customer behavior and identify how the voice flow design can be improved to create a more effective customer experience.
Angel also provides multichannel support to ensure that any interaction a customer has with Lexee will be reflected on any of the other customer service channels, such as inbound or outbound IVRs, SMS, Chat or Web. Lexee incorporates voice biometrics to authenticate each user’s voiceprint for businesses requiring security solutions.
Interactions, http://www.interactions.net provides a unique solution that works with and transforms existing IVR platforms, speech platforms and web applications with a speech-based IVR that enhances the customer experience by consistently understanding and immediately responding to information requests in natural conversation.
The company’s next generation solution addresses a critical area of customer dissatisfaction. Interactions marketing executive Dan Fox points to a survey of 2100 people conducted earlier this year by NYU Assistant Professor of Communications Liel Leibovitz which indicates:
• 83% of consumers will avoid doing business with companies that employ poor automated phone systems.
• 73% will share bad experiences on such systems on social media or other channels.
• 66% said IVRs have gotten worse, or have not improved, over the past 10 years.
Interaction’s Virtual Assistants enable customers to interact as if they are speaking with a live agent. Virtual Assistant applications allow consumers to communicate in complete sentences. The caller is not limited to using short sentence fragments that do not allow them to fully voice their intents. Consumer interactions are quicker and more effective, reducing customer effort and improving caller satisfaction. Interactions Virtual Assistants can accurately capture virtually any data such as email addresses, log-ins, names, and serial numbers.
Hyatt now uses Interactions Virtual Assistants in hotel reservation calls to gather data that is important but time-consuming --such as check-in dates and hotel location-- before passing the call on to a live agent to compete the transaction. The system is also used to change reservations or give details such as hotel location. Depending on the application, the chain can save from 33% to 96% per call.
The leading health provider Humana implemented the solution to guide applicants through a Medicaid enrollment process, a 10-minute application in which accurate recognition is critical. Virtual Assistants were able to interpret the requests of a 95-year old patient with a speech impediment. The Center for Medicaid Services gave Interactions the first approval ever for an automated system.
Interactions employs a “shared success” business model, only charging clients for each successful transaction, which is defined as the completion of a discreet task, such as authenticating a caller or completing a reservation. Interactions has experienced a growth spurt, expanding from 54 to 100 employees in less than a year Revenues have increased by 122%, existing applications have gone up by 150% and perhaps most important, client retention stands at 100%. While most of the client base is in the US and Canada, Interaction Virtual Assistants understand customer requests made in Spanish for a client in Mexico. The organization will soon be rolling out an application in China.
VoltDelta, http://www.voltdelta.com provides a hosted infrastructure for enabling virtual contact centers and home agent call distribution and management, inbound and outbound voice recognition applications, and Voice of the Customer (VoC) call and agent screen recording. The company supports more than 2.4 billion calls per year via the DeltaTouch OnDemand platform.
VoltDelta featured their Delta Dialog On-Demand IVR at SpeechTEK. The solution provides voice self-service, employing CrystalWAVE (Weighted Average Voice Evaluation) technology to create a highly accurate foundation for interactive automated dialogues. The DeltaTouch Platform unifies inbound and outbound voice recognition automation as well as multiple channels of communication including SMS to deliver exceptional value in customer care.
VoltDelta is strong in the public sector, supporting comprehensive 511 travel information services which provide traffic and weather information to motorists as well as helping drivers find the fastest and safest routes to their destinations. The solution, employing the company’s N11 platform which includes IVR infrastructure and speech applications to enhance voice recognition, was recently chosen by the state of Hawaii to help deploy their phone-based 511 service.
The advanced voice recognition capabilities offered by VoltDelta’s N11 platform can distinguish between similar sounding street names and points of interest. The solution, which is offered as cloud-based service, can remember the last location a caller requested by caching the ANI (Automatic Number Identifier). This capability helps shorten the dialogue to get drivers where they’re going more quickly and efficiently. The N11 platform is used in a number of other over-the-phone services offered by states, cities and municipalities. The solution’s scalability facilitates response during special events and crisis situations.
VoltDelta’s OnCall Contact Center On Demand (CCOD) enables enterprises to deploy contact centers and home agents without boundaries. Robust IP and TDM connectivity enable skills-based routing, queue management and real-time reporting for agent pools of any size.
Some companies are implementing the solution as a replacement for systems that have not adequately handled high call volume. An organization that experiences spikes during tax season when people call to inquire about the status of refund checks reported a 400% increase in call volume after switching to VoltDelta, largely due to CCOD’s superior connectivity capabilities. Over 90% of these calls were handled by the IVR as opposed to going to agents, which is higher than the industry average.
VoltDelta is also partnering with Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service to provide customer care. VoltDelta’s strengths in voice recognition and IVR capabilities are synergistic with Oracle Right Now technology. The relationship between the two companies is evolving and their individual roles in providing support to joint clients will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Voxeo, http://www.voxeo.com powers mobile self-service enabling companies to communicate faster and more effectively, using the technologies and devices preferred by customers, partners and employees. The company provides personalized self-service access to content, self-service commerce and the capability to connect to the right people and company departments when needed. Using Voxeo, companies can deploy any combination of voice, text messaging, mobile web, native smartphone and social networking without duplicating effort or adding expense.
Voxeo announced several new solutions during SpeechTEK. Their new Security Suite helps contact centers combat social engineering attacks and fraud. According to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report, data breaches have reached all-time record highs, increasing more than 4,000% since 2010. It has become easier for attackers to find personal information used in typical security questions from online public databases and social media sites, and use that information to manipulate contact center agents into giving away confidential information. The Voxeo Security Suite provides faster more reliable, identity verification and streamlines the authentication process to lower contact center costs and improve the customer experience. The solution includes Voxeo's ANI, Toll, Voice, Location, Payment and PCI Verifiers, as well as Level 1 PCI Hosting.
Among the suite’s capabilities are analyzing incoming phone numbers to determine if the Caller ID/ANI has been spoofed, rejecting or flagging suspicious calls, verifying the callers unique voiceprint and calling attention to calls as suspicious when they are made from atypical locations or from multiple locations in a short time. PCI Hosting provides Level 1 Service Provider Certification, the highest level of payment card industry compliance available. Voxeo Security Suite components are delivered as API web services in the Voxeo hosted cloud.
Voxeo also announced availability of VoiceObjects 12, featuring extreme simplicity in the development, deployment, management and analytics of mobile customer service applications. VoiceObjects is a comprehensive Application Lifecycle Management Suite that helps companies take full advantage of the power of mobile devices. The solution will help facilitate such applications as enabling customers to use their camera phones to capture and share photos when reporting accidents and making it possible for financial institutions to use location services to provide information on the nearest ATM.
Automated Testing, Monitoring and Simulation
Cyara Solutions, http://www.cyarasolutions.com is a pioneer in providing updated solutions for simulating, testing and monitoring IVRs and contact center systems. The company offers technology that helps their clients deploy complex contact center systems with minimal risk and faster time to market. The solution enables businesses to automate and test contact center technology using real calls without impacting their customers or agents.
Cyara’s automated testing platform includes a complete range of automated simulation and test functions. The solution tests critical applications such as IVR, CTI, call recording call routing, voice quality ACD/PBX systems and VoIP/SIP deployments, and voice biometrics. The platform provides modules for the entire lifecycle of a contact center from benchmarking, simulation functional testing, load testing, business-as-usual testing, disaster recovery through ongoing contact center monitoring. The platform offers cloud-based or on-premise deployment options.
From the beginning of the testing process, Cyara Solutions starts recording the call and identifying caller issues. Did the call connect on in time? Did the actual prompt match the expected prompt? Were there connectivity issues, voice quality issues, silence or dropped calls? Cyara’s call recording and exception based drill-down reporting enables organizations to identify problems, share recordings with partners and helps achieve quick issue resolution.
In an environment where many companies only test bare necessities or don’t test at all, Cyara offers a higher level of control. It enables organizations to take a proactive approach that saves them time and money by staying ahead of potential points of failure that can result in negative customer experiences. “Too many companies wait until customers tell them something is not working right,” said Alok Kulkarni, CEO of Cyara Solutions. “But in most cases, when customers have a bad experience, they simply leave.”
One example of how Cyara helped a client avoid a major operational problem was their association with Thirty-One Gifts. The Ohio-based direct sales fashion and accessory organization supports a network of over 80,000 sales consultants who must be able to get through to the company contact center for order support. Experiencing busy signals is not an option, especially in campaign periods when call volume spikes.
Thirty-One-Gifts was in the process of upgrading to a new SIP-based routing system last year to add capacity and implemented the Cyara Solution Suite which found that only half their port capacity was operational due to a configuration issue between their switch and carrier. Quickly identifying the routing problem enabled Thirty-One Gifts to avoid order delays and prevent any resulting financial impact for their consultants.
Empirix, http://www.empirix.com announced the availability of enhanced Quality Assurance testing services during SpeechTEK. The service enables contact centers and mobile app developers that are using voice prints to improve application security and create a more hands-free user experience. With Empirix Testing as a Service (ETaaS), companies can more effectively validate authentication and enrollment applications that utilize voice biometrics to authorize users, as well as the voice response and mobile applications they front-end. By testing performance and identity fraud scenarios prior to deployment with ETaaS, organizations can speed deployment cycles, cut project costs and preempt customer-impacting issues.
Voice-based authentication of callers is vital to secure, trusted customer care interactions Enterprises need to ensure that the applications for voiceprint enrollment as well as ongoing fraud detection are fast and friction-free. Testing can detect and help correct the sorts of faults in callflows and workflows that can cause negative caller experiences.
ETaaS combines expert services for designing and developing test plans as well as Empirix Hammer Test technology to execute these tests. To evaluate applications using voice prints, Empirix tests both authorized and non-authorized user scenarios. Key features include:
• Needs assessment and test design
• Voice file creation and analysis
• Automated, predictable and repeatable test scripts
• Media and voice quality analysis
• Baseline, soak, load and stress test execution
• Reports detailing issues for rapid correction
“We work with companies in launching innovative customer contact solutions, helping them assess real-world performance.” said Tim Moynihan, vice president of Empirix. “We are including voice biometrics testing in our service offerings to ensure that our clients can fully evaluate the wide range of communications options today’s consumers demand.”
Empirix continues to leverage its relationships with Avaya, with Empirix integrating its performance assurance technology into the OEM company’s Performance Monitoring solution. Empirix is expanding its geographic reach with 40% of their business coming from overseas markets. They work with distributors to develop partnerships in such countries as Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China as well as several African nations.
Enghouse Interactive, http://www.enghouseinteractive.com/ is taking cloud-based contact center solutions to the next level. The company’s CosmoCom solutions empower enterprises and service providers to build private and public cloud contact center solutions that free customers from the boundaries imposed by traditional industry products.
CosmoCall Universe (CCU) is a unified all-IP contact center suite that, provides businesses with the agility to quickly, easily and economically fulfill the most complex customer interaction management requirements. CosmoCom offers a lower Total Cost of Ownership and a favorable ROI. The heart of the CosmoCom Universe Virtual Call Center platform is its multichannel IP ACD with universal queuing (UQ) which provides advanced queuing and routing for voice, video, email, web calls and more. All of these contact types are seamlessly blended into a single queuing and routing intelligence (the “UQ”), and all can follow the same call flow and routing rules.
The platform also supports a wide range of capabilities for integration with the application environment, enabling agent desktop integration to be achieved quickly and inexpensively in hosted environments. The solution incorporates outbound capabilities, real-time and historical monitoring, recording and quality. CosmoCom’s platform also features carrier-grade hosting and multi-tenancy capabilities with individual tenant self-administration.
Stephen Dellutri, CTO for Enghouse Interactive’s CosmoCom, is a strong proponent of multi-tenant cloud solutions. He describes what he calls the “community cloud” as a defined set of customers using a shared platform of services. He compared shared cloud tenancy to the example of companies in a building with separate offices sharing the costs of occupancy while operating independently.
“Many state and local government agencies, as well as financial service companies with multiple departments can take advantage of the significant saving offered by multi-tenancy,” said Dellutri. “But at the same time, they still get all of the functionality they need while maintaining their autonomy.”
inContact http://www.incontact.com/ offers a powerful portfolio of cloud-based contact center call routing, self-service and agent optimization solutions.
Featured at SpeechTEK was the inContact CRM Plug-in Agent which enables intelligent call routing so that the call and caller information are delivered on a single, unified screen on the agent’s desktop. The solution’s “Always there – Never in the way” ribbon interface, which houses the call controls, takes up less than an inch on the screen.
The ribbon interface, helps reduces call handle time by uncluttering the desktop, speeding up outbound dialing, and providing automatic call data sharing between the phone system and the CRM system. Agents can switch between software programs, browser windows – any screen – and call controls and queue information are visible yet unobtrusive.The integrated system allows users to open the record of a calling customer and offers screen pops based on caller ID and provides agents with click-to-dial functionality. inContact has integrated with all the major CRM systems, as well as homegrown CRM applications. The CRM Plug-in Agent supports SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service.
Targeted verticals include financial services, direct response, insurance, as well as public sector organizations and outsourcers which require the scalability that inContact can provide Saveology, an online direct response company offering daily deals, relies on inContact to help them support marketing campaigns and accurately track results.
Extra Space Storage, one of the nation’s largest storage companies, rolled out an implementation of the inContact solution that helped double reservation rates. Callers were automatically routed to the closest geographic Extra Space storage facility when possible. If facility personnel did not answer, calls were rerouted to contact center agents who were aware of all offers and availabilities before going to voice mail.
Speech Recognition Solutions
LumenVox, http://www.lumenvox.com an innovator of speech recognition software and solutions, announced the release of version 10.5 of the LumenVox Speech Recognizer during SpeechTEK. The upgraded speech engine features a number of enhancements, including a new Call Progress Analysis feature for improved call flow handling within outbound applications and more flexible Text-to-Speech (TTS) functionality.
The new Call Progress Analysis (CPA) product now incorporates the Answering Machine Detection mechanism that was available in previous versions. CPA reaches beyond detecting answering machine and voicemail tones by ensuring that the predictive dialer or IVR is getting the right message to the desired recipient more accurately than ever.
“Call Progress Analysis improves the user experience by positively recognizing answering machines, voicemail, and live callers and ensuring that an appropriate message is delivered every time," said Dave Rich, LumenVox CEO. "It employs innovative speech recognition technology to solve a business challenge in response to customer requests for improved outbound call handling.
According to Rich, LumenVox has also changed its business model, moving from chiefly direct sales to Asterisk customers to developing channel partnerships that integrate LumenVox technology. “Collaborate Confidently” is the catchphrase LumenVox uses to promote its partnership opportunities.
LumenVox’s Speech Engine is designed to work with the AVAYA Voice Portal to provide a faster, easier way to speech-enable Web services across highly distributed enterprises. The solution is interoperable with Cisco Voice Portal. LumenVox is also the preferred voice technology vendor for Covergys and CSG. Rich described LumenVox’s relationships with channel partners as “integrated, but not ordained.” The company’s technology is widely employed, but its channel partners also collaborate with other speech vendors.
LumenVox offers more than technology alone: the company supports their channel partners with upgraded education and training programs to help ensure the success of their clients. LumenVox also provides a useful tuning tool to refine applications during the development process.
LumenVox technology is used worldwide by companies such as Verizon, GM, Toyota, Kmart, the Aussie Post, British Telecom, as well as government agencies, banks and nearly 2,000 resellers and developers. Rich believes that the company’s major advantage is its ability to offer functionality that is on par with higher-priced competitors at a significantly lower price.
VoiceVault, http://www.voicevault.com/ is a voice biometric solutions company serving the Financial Services and Healthcare industries. The company recently announced the release of the next generation of its voice biometric speaker verification engine which they believe sets new standards for security and user experience. Using a small amount of speech, VoiceVault solutions are raising the bar on accuracy with a verifiable equal error rate (EER) of 0.1% compared to a typical EER as high as 2% in other voice biometric deployments.
The solution uses an individual’s vocal characteristics for biometric identity verification. The technology is based on the simple fact that speaking is completely natural and effortless and that no two voices are exactly the same.
Voice biometric solutions provide security, convenience and compliance via smart device apps, on the web or through traditional telephony channels. They facilitate the delivery of data and application access control, transaction authorization, identity verification, e-signature provision, and out of band authentication solutions.
The biometric technology provider is now delivering voice signature solutions to three of the top five US based health insurance organizations, These VoiceVault clients cover a combined total of 174.6 million people. VoiceVault’s biometric e-signature solution provides ‘speak on the dotted line’ capability to phone and smartphone-based transactions. Using an individual’s voice to perform the e-signature, the solution enables the implementation of legally binding signatures. Companies that have adopted voice signatures as part of the health insurance sales process have increased telephone sales closure rates by over 25%.
VoiceVault solutions have the capability to grow with the user’s voice over the years. The technology can identify over 500 million bits of information, recognizing the subtle voice changes as people age. It can also identify a person’s voice even when the caller is hoarse. One interesting phenomenon that has been discovered is that the solution can recognize the subtle degradation in voice that occurs in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s, which could make it a tool in making early diagnosis.