Rich and The Water Cooler Effect

The Water Cooler Effect  n. The effect created by two or more employees having an informal, face-to-face conversation, as though at a water cooler.

This phrase was always synonymous with whatever was newsy and/or buzzworthy.  That pop culture or political event that you couldn’t wait to get to the office and talk about.   If this photo had been taken back in 1980, this group might be gathered around the water cooler to debate “Who shot JR?”

In this digital age, we go online to interact with each other.  We tweet what we find newsworthy.  I remember watching the presidential debates 4 years ago.  I had my laptop on my lap opened to my Facebook page.  I watched and participated in many conversations and debates that unfolded on Facebook through status updates and comments on statuses.   The Internet provides us with an opportunity to gather around the “water cooler” with our friends and family that live many, many miles away.

Here at Telovations, we don’t gather around the water cooler.  But we do have one spot that brings us together.

Rich’s White Board.

Every day we stop by Rich’s Corner of Telovations to check out his white board. He provides us with a fun little distraction – an excuse to step away from our desks for a second.  We have to know what the day has in store:

It may be an opportunity to celebrate a national holiday….

To welcome a new employee….

Sometimes, we all get in on the fun….

It’s a reminder that sometimes, it’s the little things that bring us together.

You can keep up with Rich’s White Board by clicking here and liking us on Facebook.  It is updated most days…we do have to let him do his job sometimes.

What about you?  Does your business have a unique way that brings your team together?  If so, please share!

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Making Sense of Telecom Jargon: Audio Mining

What is Audio Mining?

Have you ever used the app Shazam?  If not, it’s great.  A song comes on the radio, you think “wow!  I want to download this song…I wonder who sings it?”  You wait to hear the DJ announce it, and you are in the middle of an hour-long, commercial-free set.  You’ll never know.  But, if you have the Shazam app, you just open the app, hit ‘tap to Shazam,’ quietly stand-by while your smart phone listens and within seconds, you are provided with the name of the song and the artist.

That is musical audio mining.  Shazam identifies the melodic, harmonic or rhythmic characteristics of the musical piece it’s listening to, and then searches its database for the song that bears the same characteristics.

Or…

How many times have you called in for customer service and/or support, and have been told: “this call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance”?  Too many to count, right?

That is also audio mining.

Audio mining is the process of searching large volumes of recorded audio for occurrences of specific words and/or phrases.

There are 3 ways a program can analyze a conversation:  Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition (LVCSR), Phonetic Recognition, and Hybrids programs.

Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition (LVCSR)

LVCSR relies on a database, or dictionary if you will, of words.  It uses this database to understand what is being said during a call.  You can enhance your LVCSR database with industry-specific terminology or words or phrases that are unique to your organization.  You can also add new terms and phrases to your database as needed.

For example, imagine you are a company that specializes in specialty dog treats and you are considering adding an organic line, but you are not sure if your customer base is interested in this type of product.  You just add “organic” to your database, pick a time period to analyze (say, the last year) and then reprocess the recorded calls during that time period.  You will be given a report that lets you know how many times, during the given time frame, customers called in and the word “organic” came up in conversation.

Phonetic Recognition

A system that relies on phonetic recognition does not search for words or phrases, nor does it make any attempt to try and understand the meat of the conversation.  This system strictly searches for sounds that make up words and language.

It is quicker than LVCSR, but it has a higher degree of inaccuracy.  This system cannot differentiate the different meanings of the word stock.  It also cannot recognize the difference between buy, bye and by.  So imagine you want to do a search for calls in which your customers say: “buy.”   You will have to sort through conversations in which a customer says “bye” or “by” as well.  You could waste a lot of time listening to calls that won’t provide you with the insight you were hoping to gain.

Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid solutions rely on the best of both of these worlds.  They combine a large database of words with phonetic analysis.  The result is faster, more reliable search results with better comprehension of the conversation.  This system can analyze calls made to your business and organize them into the categories you chose:  customer complaint, billing, products…you name it!

Imagine, you receive a report and there has been a spike in calls containing the following words/phrases:  “I need to speak to a manager,” “unresolved,” “same problem.”  You can feel fairly certain that your customers are having issues that customer service is unable to resolve.  You can then take the steps to determine if someone in customer services is not doing their job, if your customer service reps need more training to assist customers, or maybe there is an issue with your product that needs to be addressed.  In any case, you will be able to contain this issue before it spirals out of control.

Prior to audio mining solutions, businesses may not have been made aware of problems, until they started losing customers.  By then, it’s too late.

To learn how audio mining can help your business, please click here.

Making Sense of Telecom Jargon – Part 3

CTI – Computer Telephony Integration

CTI is the set of technologies used to integrate and manage computers and telephone systems.  The functionality falls into two general categories:

  1. Controlling the telephone system through the computer
  2. The telephone system displaying information about the call on the computer

If you have a CTI-enabled system you can dial, answer, and hang-up all through the user interface accessible by any computer.

CTI systems can also include the following features:

  • Caller Id
  • Dialed number display
  • call routing, reporting and desktop automation
  • call recording

ACD – Automatic Call Distributor

When you make a call into a call center for customer service and support, for account questions, or you call in to your doctor’s office, chances are your call will be handled with ACD.

Most commonly, through IVR techology, you will be asked a series of questions that will enable the system to transfer your call to the right department.  You get placed on hold until the next available operator can answer your call.  ACD will notify you of your place in line, and estimated wait time.

MOS – Mean Opinion Score

When it comes to communications (voice or video), the quality of the sound is very important.  It can dictate whether the user has either a positive or a negative experience.  MOS is a quantifiable way to measure the quality of sound once it has been transmitted to the end user.

It is measure on a scale from 1 to 5, with the range looking like this:

1 – Communication was not perceived

2 – Very annoying.  Communication barely perceptible

3 – Annoying.

4 – Fair.  Some imperfections, but sound is clear.  Most cell phones fall into this category.

5 – Perfect.  Radio reception or face-to-face conversation.

A certain number of people are asked to sit and listen to some audio recordings.  The most common phrases used are:

  • You will have to be very quiet
  • There was nothing to be seen
  • They worshiped wooden idols
  • I want a minute with the inspector
  • Did he need any money?

After listening, the subject gives the recording a rating.  The mathematical mean (average) of the sum total of all ratings is found.  Now that recording has a MOS.

This almost wraps up our series on Telecom jargon.  If you have any suggestions for this series, please email them to us at marketing@telovations.com.  We’d love to hear from you!

SIP Trunks and Their Cost Saving Benefits

What are managed SIP trunks and how will they save me money?

Before we get into that, we need to quickly touch on the different ways data is exchanged once it leaves your business:

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

This is the world’s circuit-switched, analog network – telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission, cellular networks, communications satellites, undersea telephone carriers – are all interconnected through circuit-switching centers.  When you make a phone call using a traditional carrier or use dial-up to connect to the Internet – you are using PSTN.

ISDN – Integrated Service Digital Network

The start of the digital age of communications.   With ISDN, you have a digital transmission of voice, video and data over the traditional PSTN.

There are 2 basic types:

  • Basic Rate Interface (BRI) – low bandwidth – 2 B-channels that can be used for voice, data and other services and 1 D-channel is used for control and signaling.  BRI is for home and small business use.
  • Primary Rate Interface (PRI) – higher bandwidth – 23 B-channels and 1 D-channel.  PRI is used for larger enterprises.

Now to get back to SIP trunks

SIP stands for session initiation protocol.  Protocol is the set of rules that govern the format of messages that are exchanged between servers.  Session initiation protocol simply means that you are initiating a session to exchange messaging over the Internet.  A managed SIP trunk is a direct connection between your business and your IP (Internet Protocol) telephony service provider.  It allows you the ability to make VoIP calls over the PSTN without the need to purchase an IP-PBX gateway.   An SIP trunk is a single line that can be used to transfer all multimedia:  voice, video and data all at the same time.

Here’s the good part.  Saving money:

  1. Hardware and Service Costs – A managed SIP trunk eliminates the costs associated with the purchase, support and maintenance of hardware gateways.  Also, SIP trunks are less expensive than analog circuits, and SIP’s long distance charges are cheaper than traditional rates.
  2. Scalability – PRI is sold in increments of 23.  If your organization has 24 employees, you will need to pay for 46 channels.  Managed SIP trunks, on the other hand, are sold in increments of 1.  You only pay for the lines you need and you can add additional channels at any time.
  3. Management – Your SIP trunk provider handles the management of, any updates to, and support of your trunks.  Instead of being bogged down managing your communications system, your IT department can focus on initiatives that will grow your business.
  4. Disaster Recovery – If the lines of communication are down to your business, your business loses its ability to make money.  An Internet-based phone system has a higher likelihood of maintaining functionality during a disaster, than a fixed-line, circuit-switched system.  Click here to learn more about the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place for your business.

SIP trunks are becoming an increasingly popular solution for businesses of all sizes.  For more information please visit our website or contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.