Sarah De MartinSarah De MartinJanuary 30, 2020
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7min1445

“It’ll never catch on!”

Famous last words; Alexa, which many people dismissed as Amazon’s little pet project, was actually a mark of genius.

Just over five years after its initial launch, we’re now 200 million Alexa-enabled devices sold and 90 thousand voice skills down the road. Alexa has expanded beyond our homes – she can now be found cruising in our cars, on our smartphones, earbuds, spectacles, and discreetly in connected rings.

So…what’s next?

The first thing to acknowledge is that voice isn’t a fad. It’s not going anywhere, because it’s actually useful. Moreover, many of us are starting to trust it. Last year, six-out-of-ten smart speaker owners claimed to have made a purchase brokered by their voice assistant in the previous twelve months.

It’s bridging the gap between people’s domestic and working lives, and that’s only going to accelerate going forward. How? By capturing even more facets of users’ behaviour.

There’s a good reason why Alexa made it onto Fitbit last year (although it remains to be seen whether it will remain there post-Google acquisition), and why Amazon has launched smart glasses. Alexa will become more capable with the release of each new device that taps into additional data sources through sensory inputs.

Imagine the potential for ecommerce – could Amazon’s search rankings and ad strategies ever be dictated by how fast your heart’s beating, or by what your eye is drawn to on the page?

When it comes down to it, Amazon exists to sell, and its success has been built on its search and recommendations engine. You sometimes hear people say Amazon knows what they want before they do. And the thing is: this doesn’t even sound far-fetched anymore. Future iterations of Alexa will become Amazon’s secret weapon by understanding what makes each of us tick.

The more Alexa-embedded devices there are, the easier this will become. We’re already seeing this strategy unfold. Alexa was everywhere at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. She was in motorcycle helmets, electric toothbrushes, and even beds, the latter allowing users to dim the lights from the comfort of a $4,950 berth.

Of course, this is a tech show. It’s overblown and crazy – not all of these items will make an impact. Some will be dismissed as novelties, others will be deemed too fiddly, and some might simply over-step what consumers deem acceptable.

This echoes Amazon’s efforts at HQ – many devices won’t get beyond the limited beta phase, but each experiment lays down the groundwork for the next.

One thing’s for certain, though. In the next five years, Alexa will transform from a reactive assistant to a proactive companion. According to Amazon’s Rohit Prasad, Alexa will become increasingly embedded in our daily lives, taking a more active role, and even leading two-way conversations. The logical outcome is home robotics, and if anyone can make that a mass-market proposition, it’s going to be Amazon.

It seems the future has finally caught up with Amazon’s vision; by this, I’m referring as much to the human aspect as I am the mechanical. It’s easy to be sucked into the brave new world of  voice and the convenience it brings – all valid. However, the implications are equally ‘Big Brother’.

There have been instances reported where customers don’t interact directly with Alexa, yet are targeted with products based on their private conversations.

And yet it’s…fine.

There’s no massive moral outrage, people aren’t throwing their Echoes into the streets, and to be honest, there’s little more than the occasional disgruntled tweet. It comes down to the perceived value exchange, and it seems most Echo users are happy to surrender their personal data for convenience.

And while there are still areas we’re not totally comfortable with yet – the use of ‘idle’ Alexa recordings in murder cases, for example – we’ve come a long way, and Amazon’s intelligence is only set to unfold further across the customer experience.

Here’s to the next five years.


Jeff GallinoJeff GallinoJune 28, 2019
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7min1905

Agents interact with dozens of customers daily, and odds are they aren’t exactly calling to talk about their opinion on the Game of Thrones finale.

Your employees encounter an influx of problems, ranging from simple to complex, that all need to be addressed in a way that not only follows organisational and customer expectations, but also compliance standards. Today’s CX leaders know that an organisation needs to not only understand what happens during 100 percent of their interactions – they need to uncover the why behind each experience.

To do this, organisations must pay attention to the science of conversation – a concept that is most clearly depicted using speech analytics. When employed correctly, speech or engagement analytics technology combines historical and real-time data across voice, web, social, or text channels, to help agents better understand what customers expect and how to achieve that desirable outcome while maintaining compliance expectations.

Essentially, your analytics technology takes on three roles, each looking to achieve a common goal in applying proven methods to quickly and successfully resolve a problem:

Role 1: The customer’s interpreter for enhanced customer satisfaction

The real value of today’s speech analytics technology lies in its ability to apply AI and machine learning capabilities to conversations in order to better understand experiences and maximise customer lifetime value. This is accomplished through real-time recommendations based on the specific needs of your organisation, increasing first-call resolution rates and NPS scores by minimising the need for customers to call back and seek additional assistance.

While many tend to believe that this is done solely through the words exchanged between your agent and customer, CallMiner found that only 23 percent of consumers feel listened to after a call with a representative. That’s because many companies today lack a true understanding of the message the customer is trying to relay – which is best portrayed by a combination of the context of the words spoken, the tone, and the tempo of the conversation. Leaving one or more of these factors out will merely skim the surface of each interaction.

Sentiment analysis is another key component in gathering unsolicited feedback through voice interactions, as it uses a combination of semantics and acoustical characteristics to score and provide an unbiased interpretation of factors that are usually very difficult to measure. This helps agents deliver better customer outcomes by adapting their communications style, convey empathy, and message according to the individual customer and their emotional state at the time.

Role 2: Your company’s sidekick in driving business initiatives

Just like speech analytics has evolved well beyond transcription and keyword spotting, it is no longer confined to the call centre. Insights gleaned from your company’s interactions can have profound impact when shared across departments – from sales, to marketing, agent onboarding, and more.

For example, your AI-powered software could provide a rating of how likely a customer would be to positively respond to an upsell request based on historical data. Then, based on your organisation’s priorities and initiatives, the tool would prompt your agent to try and upsell to the most-probable prospects.

And aside from increasing profit, AI can also help avoid lost revenue by detecting fraudulent activity and reducing phishing-related fraud by 99 percent. This is done through a rapid assessment of how often and which channels a customer uses to contact your organisation, as well as the questions and requests they usually make during these interactions.

Role 3: Your agent’s advocate against compliance violations

In 2018 alone, there was a total of $28.7 million collected in HIPAA fines. Simply asking your agents to be mindful of compliance standards and industry regulations is not enough.

Fortunately, customer engagement analytics technology offers a proactive approach to risk management by automating oversight functions and documentation processes for every one of your customer interactions. Operators can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their real-time speech analytics tools are determining whether scripts are being followed and call recording disclosures are automatically distributed during every call.

Speech Analytics continues to evolve and in order to drive business results, companies are expected to keep up with corresponding solutions. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, organisations can look to science and technology to make processes more seamless on both ends of the conversation. Speech analytics technology makes sure your business objectives are seen through during 100% of your consumer interactions across every channel, from start to finish. The tools are there—so why not take advantage of them and uncover the science of your customer conversations?




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