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Voice Design Tools Get a Redesign of Their Own

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• Management for different languages and personas. In North America, Vox Gen offers separate personas for English and Spanish. In the Caribbean, VoxGen offers three very distinct voices to accommodate the very different cultural identities in the area. “You need to have different-sounding voices for different regions,” Robinson explains. “It comes down to the brand identity. You don’t want to talk down to your customers. You want to be able to talk with them, engage them.”

• Audio management. Developing voice applications involves a lot of audio recording. The scripts go to studios, which can then record the audio with professional voice talent, upload it to Amazon S3 storage, and make it available all from within the tool.

• Quality assurance. Rather than writing out reams and reams of test scripts, which is very inefficient, designers can use the design for the actual testing. The tool tracks all of the testing. Multiple testers can work on the same system at once.

And in keeping with market demand, VoxGen has been working over the past decade to expand beyond its original focus on IVR technology, adding SMS and chat support. Soon to come are integrations with Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook Messenger, and Google Home, among other similar systems.

VoxGen also offers a speech wizard, built on Java, that enables the nearly 10 million Java developers worldwide to build conversational applications. “There are a lot of intricacies not handled well in a drag-and-drop world, such as errors,” Robinson says. The wizard’s modules eliminate much of this complexity.

Next up for VoxGen will be the launch of a design cloud, which it expects to release shortly. The design cloud will be a web portal for people to download the VoxGen voice tool.

Expanding to Omnichannel

Change has also been thrust upon the market by the increasing use of voice applications simultaneously with web-based applications. Whereas one voice-enabled application might make it possible for an airline passenger to check on his flight without talking to a live person, increasingly people want to be able to do a few other things at the same time, such as taking a selfie in the airport, calling up maps or other information, or checking the weather forecast for their destination.

In response, several companies have been focusing on delivering speech-enabled capabilities in an omnichannel platform.

“We have focused a lot on automating human interactions across a lot of different channels,” says Tore Christensen, an Avaya corporate consulting engineer specializing in customer experience and contact center automation.

Avaya, he explains, has moved from providing just a basic IVR system to offering a much broader customer experience portal capable of sharing information across channels.

The idea, Christensen says, is that someone involved in a car accident, for example, could use voice to call the insurance company to make a claim, upload photos of the damage, and later check on the status of the claim, all without needing to repeat or re-enter any more than identifying information. To be truly revolutionary the data collected from all channels needs to trigger various workflows, such as contacting a body shop, a mechanic, etc., according to Christensen. “The content needs to be pushed to where it needs to go next.

“We have taken the same set of logic and other information that we have developed for speech and provided that to other channels; that makes it much richer than what you can do with speech alone,” Christensen says.

For example, through the Avaya portal, end customers no longer need to spend long times on hold. The portal’s tools enable the customer to opt for a call back scheduled at a time of his choosing.

This is much richer than what one can do with traditional IVR and voice functionality alone, Christensen says. For example, if someone starts a conversation, then the call drops, all of the information is saved for when communication is re-established, eliminating the need to start from scratch.

The move to an omnichannel environment has also been behind much of the evolution that Genesys has undergone in the past few years, particularly as it has acquired companies and their capabilities.

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