August 11, 2014

Avaya’s Matula Describes the Possibilities of Voice

Data and video are getting a lot of the attention these days, but voice is here to stay, and it’s getting better than ever. That was the sentiment this morning at the SmartVoice Conference, with is collocated at ITEXPO (NewsAlert) this week at The Rio in Las Vegas.

Valentine Matula, senior director and head of emerging products and technology at Avaya, provided the SmartVoice Conference keynote speech this morning. Key themes of the talk included how new technology is enabling voice to be of a higher quality, how organizations can gain insight from voice, and how we can make voice interactions smarter.

The PSTN, which operates in the 300 to 3400Hz range and relies on G.711 and G.729 codecs, loses a lot of harmonics of voice, Matula said. But over-the-top voice and newer codecs such as OPUS open the window for better voice quality, he said.

HTML5 and WebRTC are also expanding the possibilities of voice, he said. HTML5 adds capabilities that Flash had into the browser directly, he stated. Meanwhile, WebRTC – an underlying technology for communicating voice and video – employs both standard, long-existing G.711 codec, and the newer open source codec known as OPUS. What’s interesting about OPUS is it’s tunable, and can go from low bit rate to high bit rate—can be used for various applications and use cases at various times. It also can conceal packet loss as users move between connections of different qualities.

Not only are voice interactions becoming clearer, but voice can be used to do verification, said Matula. For example, you can send a verification certificate if a user’s Internet call is direct to the call center; that way your call center won’t have to worry about asking the caller for his or her mother’s maiden name. Building that into the communication, rather than asking callers to provide such information saves agent time and increases customer satisfaction, he said.

“So you’ve got a strong reason to do that,” Matula said.

Voice can also be analyzed to get a sense of what’s happening during an interaction, he added. That can be done by listening to every bit of a call or by doing more targeted analysis, such as implementing phonetic scanning to look for certain phrases such as “this is not acceptable,” Matula said, which is a common way callers voice discontent.

Matula also talked about the multichannel contact center and how organizations and agents that have access to a caller’s interaction with the company prior to a call can handle those calls much more efficiently. And he shared how Egencia Travel, the business arm of Expedia (News Alert), realized far better results from callers coming in through its mobile app than those coming in from the PSTN. Specifically, there was 13 percent savings of time spent with the customer, and agent time was reduced by 8 percent.

Mobile clients, Matula added, mean no IVR, fewer network minutes, agent time savings, and better first choice routing via visual selection.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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