Rana Gujral

How measuring voice tone can deliver value

While it is well-known most of our intent is not communicated by actual words, what many do not realize is there is technology that can draw accurate conclusions from factors like tone of voice.

One company at the forefront of delivering value from measuring tone of voice is Behavioral Signals, CEO Rana Gujral said. Behavioral Signals introduces emotional intelligence from speech into conversations with artificial intelligence (AI).

“You probably hear the word disruption too much, but I tell you, what we’re doing is completely disruptive,” Mr. Gujral began.

Rana Gujral

He’s right. While most AI and machine learning-based systems on the market analyze words, Behavioral Signals generates insights from the pitch, tone, variance and finality of a person’s voice. While some companies focus on what is said, Behavioral Signals is concerned with the how.

Think of a typical conversation and how much information we glean from factors other than words. What is their mood? Are they engaged or distracted? Are they speaking loud or quiet? Fast or slow? Those factors reveal intent.

“We can predict with a very high level of accuracy what action a person will take in the future,” Mr. Gujral said.

As we listen to the spoken word, our brains process a variety of signals related to mood, Mr. Gujral explained The average human is about 80 per cent accurate when deciphering those signals, and so are Behavioral Signals’ solutions.

And that delivers value to customers, such as financial institutions with call centers. Customer acquisition and retention is an expensive process, so ensuring the best possible outcomes from what can be emotionally intense situations is a priority for those companies. 

Behavioral Signals processes recent conversations between the client and staff to build rich emotional profiles of both the caller and staff so when that caller next contacts their bank they can be matched with an agent best suited to their needs. 

“When we find that other person on the other line who is a good match for us, we have very rich, amazing conversations,” Mr. Gujral said.

The conversations are productive ones too. A recent assessment of a major European bank who adopted Behavioral Signals’ solutions showed a 20 per cent increase in customer outcomes and 1.5 million euros more per agent in collections. And because words are not being recorded to text, privacy concerns do not exist.

Customer service centers face some interesting challenges when we emerge from the pandemic, Mr. Gujral said. Collection moratoriums will be lifted and standard activities will resume.

A look to the 2008 crisis is instructive, he explained. Non-performing loans skyrocketed and took almost a decade to normalize. In 2019 roughly one per cent of loans in the United States were non-performing and the rate approached four per cent in the European Union.

“The world wasn’t healthy pre-COVID-19,” Mr. Gujral said.

There will be more difficult conversations for agents in the coming months, and they need to be handled delicately, Mr. Gujral said. It starts from a good spot and the vast majority of people want to make the situation better. So when it comes time to call a customer, improve your chances for success by enlisting the best match possible.

“That’s a much more scalable situation and that also effectively maximizes the value you have in your current workforce,” Mr. Gujral said. “Rather than finding your best people you are finding your best people for the task at hand.”

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