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Q&A: Behavioural Cues discuss what's next for voice analytics

Voice analytics has many familiar and established applications. One example is sentiment analysis, which is commonly used to improve customer service and call center operations.

There is a new generation of voice analytics applications based on emotion detection and monitoring. These new applications hold the potential to improve many business functions, from recruiting and employee wellness to insurance claims processing to various types of risk mitigation.

We recently spoke with Behavioural Cues executive director James Ellender to hear more about the future of voice analytics in Asia. Behavioural Cues is a behavioural analysis consulting firm based in Hong Kong.

What is the current state of voice analytics across Asia?

We see that technologies for voice analytics are readily available across Asia, and new, innovative projects are constantly being launched with good success.

It can be said that the companies across Asia that are currently using voice analytics technologies are doing what can be referred to as 'post event' analysis. For example, in call centre environments, voice analytics is being used to help train customer service personnel to respond more succinctly to the customer questions or issues.

In our opinion, the next step in the evolution of voice analytics across Asia will be real-time usage that enables immediate interaction. An example of this is the technology of a vendor we recently started to work with – Nemesysco – that measures the emotional responses that a customer conveys. Its technology can be used in many scenarios, such as recognizing credit risk or fraud by detecting the true emotions inside the spoken words. This is a really interesting technology that can identify involuntary changes to biomarkers within the voice and determine emotional responses, such as high stress, indifference, excitement, etc.

What are the prominent applications of voice analytics that you see are widely used by Asian organizations today?

Various applications widely exist in most of Asia and are being introduced in call centres, credit applications, and even insurance claims to help determine 'trends' or 'themes' between good or inadequate customer service, credit risks or fraudulent insurance claims. These applications demonstrate best practice options or risk areas to observe.

As we see it, isomorphic learning takes examples from previous risks and translates them into similar examples in other industries. Of course, all of this helps to build intelligence on how to increase sales or counter risks.

What we are trying to do, especially with the Nemesysco technology, is to create a situation in which emotions are detected and even measured in real-time. This adds significantly to the amount of insight that can be gathered for better decision making.

The pandemic has caused a significant shift in both the workplace and consumer buying patterns. Have either of these impacted the uptake of voice analytics in your company's markets?

Yes, the pandemic has definitely increased the need for voice analytics.

Today, consumers, employees and most people across Asia have become more comfortable than previously with online and telephone communications in place of in-person interactions. When we speak to someone in a conventional, face-to-face setting, we are able to establish a rapport and gauge the situation. This is referred to as behavioural detection.

This element is very difficult to engage through virtual or remote interactions and is even lost. Voice analytics can be used and may even be necessary to overcome this and help make more informed decisions.

We are considering our options for applying the Nemesysco technology in this direction. There are many use cases applicable to our markets in Asia, such as recruiting and employee wellness.

Are there any challenges that global enterprises face when deploying voice analytics technologies in the Asian market in terms of differences from other markets? 

In any market, trust is required from all stakeholders when deploying any new technology. This is especially true in Asia and specifically here in Hong Kong.

Introducing a new technology or techniques like voice analytics can appear confrontational at first, especially if it is there to question the sincerity of what a person is saying. However, there needs to be a distinction between ensuring what is best for a company is balanced against the risk posed by those looking to exploit an opportunity that impacts the company's profits and reputation.

This requires building trust in both technology and people deploying and managing the application of the technology.

Finally, any recommendation that you would like to offer Asian enterprises considering their options for new voice analytics technologies and projects?

Voice analytics technology should be there to enhance a company's offering and not add additional layers or processes of complexity.

The technology and its applications should be true to the company's values and support the honest experiences of customers, employees and all involved.

An example of this is one area that we are considering for the Nemesysco technology is employment screening. An organization can use voice analytics from Nemesysco to ensure they attract the best possible staff aligned with the company's values and cultures. This can be done in a non-intrusive way that enhances how an organization recruits without replacing existing HR systems.

There are similar applications for evaluating risks associated with both customers and employees that can align with the company's value.

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