Just Try to Raise Your Voice
Companies that rely on call centers to interact with their customers, such as financial services firms or wireless carriers, think they have a fix for consumers sick of being trapped in soulless corporate phone trees: software that can detect when consumers are getting angry.
The software collects and organizes those calls for higher ups to study later.
You'd be surprised how many programmers it takes to recognize a four-letter word.
NICE Systems, a Rutherford, N.J.-based company, spent tens of millions of dollars developing algorithms to build "emotion detection" software, which measures a customer's baseline of emotion in the first five to 10 seconds of a phone call. From that point on in the conversation, if the customer's voice deviates from that baseline, measured against 26 different parameters, an alert will go off and a supervisor will know to step in.
However, most companies that use "speech analytics," as it's called, aren't using it to monitor calls in real time. They're using it after the calls have come in to search for patterns. That way they can figure out if you're just a lone whiner or part of a larger problem.
Many of the companies that are selling this technology already monitor customer service calls, as in "this call may be recorded for quality assurance." Believe it or not, even though they've been recording calls for years, they weren't in the habit of going back and analyzing more than small percentage of them until recently.
The technology sounds good. But will any of this actually make your life easier?
Remember AOL agent John who wouldn't let Vincent Ferrari cancel his AOL subscription?
Ferrari recorded five minutes of the call, in which Ferrari used the word "cancel" at least 21 times--to no avail. If John had been using "emotion detection" software, would he not have told Ferrari, "You are going to listen to me?"
Keith Dawson, editorial director of Call Center Magazine (yes, it exists) said John actually didn't do anything wrong. He was stuck enforcing a bad policy.
And that's where "speech analytics" and "emotion detection" reach their limit. If a company isn't willing to do anything about what its customers are saying, customers won't see a difference.
"Bad management is bad management," said customer relations management expert Donna Fluss.
Do you think you've talked to a call center that was using "emotion detection?" Would you want to?
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