Big Data, the Election and Your Business

We talk a lot about the importance of discovering the truth within your business communications.  You may remember this blog post, where we compared data mining to the movie the Matrix.  That the usage of data mining was comparable to swallowing the red pill offered by Morpheous; being fully informed as to what is really going on in your business.

Big Data and Data mining are not new to political elections, but this was the first time it played a pivotal role on the national stage, thanks to Nate Silver.  His statistical analysis and predictions of the presidential election were completely contrary to the pundits’ predictions.  They mocked him, they discredited him, they rolled their eyes at him.  It was fascinating watching that evening unfold.  The pundits sat there dumbfounded, as state after state was called, and they realized; he was right.

It was like watching a changing of the guard.  Political pundits prophesizing based on gut feelings and experience to the unbiased analysis of data.

You could almost hear taps being played.

We love big data.  Data Mining and Analysis is a big part of what we do.  The day after the election, we couldn’t wait to hear how this was going to play out, to read what was being said.  CNET, in this article, declared the two biggest winners of the night, Nate Silver and Big Data.  The pundits were among the biggest losers.

Wired Magazine gave us the best headline of all:

Wrath of the Math:  Obama wins Nerdiest Election Ever.

How did Obama squeak out a win, when most experts were certain it couldn’t be done?

With Data Mining and Analysis.

Data Mining and Analysis drove the results in this campaign.  Jascha Franklin-Hodge of BlueStateDigital, stated that data mining allows “campaigns to be more effective in their messaging. More effective in finding the right people to engage in the right ways, at the right time of day, through the right platforms, to give people experiences that are more tailored to them, and more compelling for them.”

Doesn’t that sound like the kind of results you want in your business?

Click here to learn more, or contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.

These are a few of our favorite (google mail add-on) things!

When it comes to selecting an email provider – your choices are nearly endless.  With one quick Google search, I was directed to this article which highlights the Top 18 Free Email Services.  That’s just the best of the free services – that doesn’t even include the email provided by your employer or by your Internet Service Provider.  In many ways, they are all very similar…they provide you with more than enough storage, with decent spam filters, and with mobile access in addition to desktop access, just to name a few.  So how do you differentiate between them; and furthermore, how do you choose?  For us, it’s all about the add-ons and one provider stands out among the rest:

Google Mail.

So what are add-ons anyway?  Add-ons are small pieces of software that add features and/or functionality to your basic email account.  Your email provider wants you to be happy.  Instead of overwhelming you with features you don’t need and will never use – add-ons allow you to customize your email for the ultimate user experience.  Here are a few of our favorite add-ons offered by Google:

AwayFind:

Are you productive when you are waiting for an important email?

If you are like me, you try to be, but you are easily distracted.  You start working on something else, but every time you hear your phone chime with an email alert, you have to check it.  Yes, that is a surefire way to ensure to won’t miss that email.  It also ensures that you will spend a good part of your day dealing with emails that were not urgent.  Did you know it takes 4 minutes to get back on track after an email interruption?

With AwayFind, you can quit obsessing about your email.  With just 1-click set-up in your google mail, you will be notified via voice message, text message, or through an iPhone or Android app alert when your predefined parameters are met.

Boomerang:

Boomerang allows you to schedule messages in Gmail to send at a later time, to remind yourself to follow up on an important message, and to keep track of who responds.

  1. Send Later – The ‘send later’ button allows you send an email at a later date/time.  It provides you a choice of common send times or you can select the specific date and time.
  2. Boomerang Reminders – The ‘Boomerang’ button archives a message and returns it to the top of your inbox on a specified date or after a certain amount of time.  It provides you the email and reminds you to respond when the time is appropriate.
  3. Response Tracking – This feature places a sent message at the top of your inbox, if you haven’t received a response within a time frame you specify.

Google Labs

Here is how you can access Google Labs:

  1. Click on the Gear Symbol on the upper right hand side of your gmail.
  2. Hit Settings
  3. There will be blue tabs across the top of your screen – click on Labs
  4. When you find a lab you like, click enable.

Bear in mind, these are experimental new features in Gmail.  Some things are here today, gone tomorrow.  Some things become permanent features.  We hope the following stick around because we find them really helpful:

CALENDAR GADGET

This lab provides a list of, and details about, your upcoming events and activities found on your Google calendar.  It is displayed to the left of your Gmail window.

INSERTING IMAGES

This lab allows you to insert message into the body of your email.  You can either upload and insert a file off of your computer or by URL.

PREVIEW PANE

When you highlight an email in your inbox, you will be able to read this email in a preview box located on the right of your inbox, instead of having to double-click and open each individual email.  It allows you to tackle your inbox much faster. UNDO SEND

This feature adds about a 5-second delay between when you click ‘send’ and when Google actually delivers the email.  This is really helpful for those moments when you fire off a quick response, hit send and then think better of it.  If it takes you longer than five seconds to realize you went overboard….you’re out of luck.

Stayed tuned – next week we are going to highlight our favorite Google Add-ons for businesses!

StartUp Camp – Austin

We got out of the office a bit last week to attend the IT Expo in Austin, TX.  One of my favorite things about the IT Expo is StartUp Camp.  StartUp camp selects 4 early-stage companies to pitch their innovations to judges and an audience filled with industry leaders, media and investors.

It is often said that the journey of an entrepreneur can be lonely.

That may be true at times.

But that moment, when someone realizes that your dream fulfills their needs…

The following companies were the finalists at the Austin session of StartUp Camp.  Show them a little love and check them out:

VSnap – Have you ever sent an email to a prospect and when you received their response you realized “Wow.  I was completely misunderstood”?  You struggle to regain ground, but you feel the sale slipping away.  VSnap helps you avoid miscommunications by allowing you to send a short video message in which you can clearly capture your tone, emotion, enthusiasm and authenticity.  You can send VSnaps to individual email addresses, email groups or through your twitter feed.

Click here to see an example of a video message sent using VSnap.

For more on VSnap – click here

Phonism – As VoIP admins, the founders of Phonism wished there was a better way to provision and manage IP phones.  They decided to take matters into their own hands and created a carrier grade Phone Management System that took the complexity out of provisioning.  In addition to handling all your provisioning tasks with ease, they also give users the ability to customize their desk phones with backgrounds, ringtones, contacts and more.

Click here to learn more about Phonism.

RingDNA – RingDNA is a voice communications company that wants to help your organization improve its sales, marketing and support performance.  It allows you to use your iPad as a call center integrated with CRM, call-tracking and marketing analytics.  It delivers real-time data, social media streams and behavior marketing insights when you need it most – while you are speaking with a potential customer trying to close the deal.

Click here to learn more about RingDNA.

Zello – works on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows devices to turn your phone into a Walkie Talkie.  It is a social radio, much like voice twitter.  It can be used to participate or listen in on public conversations, or stay connected with a group of friends.  Businesses use Zello to replace 2-way radio or push-to-talk.  You can also create a Zello “room” for your company’s customers to visit whenever they have questions.

For more on Zello – click here

Product Spotlight: VocalQ

Product Spotlight:  VocalQ

How many times has a customer service experience left you feeling like this:

Maybe your experience was so poor, you decided to take your business elsewhere.

Now imagine you are the business owner.

Customers are leaving and their chief complaint is customer service.  Right now your business measures quantitative call data:  how many calls are received, how many are abandoned, how many rings before a call is answered, length of call, etc.

You review that data and it doesn’t tell you much.  You can tell if customer calls are being answered right away, or if customers are hanging up before they get through to a live body.  It also tells you if you customer service reps are spending enough time on the call to reasonably answer questions and provide support.

What you can’t tell from that data is the quality of the conversation.  Are your reps rude to your customers?  Are they able to answer the caller’s question, or is more training needed?  Is it all your reps, or just one?

Enter VocalQ.

You are familiar with the measure of your IQ or your EQ (emotional quotient); VocalQ (VQ) is your vocal quotient.  It is the measure of your communications intelligence within your business.

VocalQ, tracks your quantitative and descriptive data, but it provides a deeper analysis of calls made to your business.  It records conversations and will alert you on the quality of the interactions between your employees and your customers.

Calls are sampled and benchmarked.  Things like the customer having to repeat themselves or reps providing the correct answer to questions can be measured.  You can also identify words or phrases that will trigger a message to you.

If you want to know every time a customer says: “I am not happy” or mentions a competitor, you will be alerted.  When a customer hangs up, unhappy, after a customer support call, you run the risk of losing that customer to a competitor.  You also lose potential customers as well.  An unhappy customer will not recommend your business to family and friends.

So, you’ve been notified that a customer called in and said “I am not happy with my service.”  Now what?

You can be the hero that saves both your days.

You can swoop in and give the customer a call and say: “I understand you called in for support – I just wanted to ensure that your problem was resolved.”  Knowing that it wasn’t, you will be given the opportunity to make it right.  You now have a happy customer.  And a happy customer doesn’t look for other options.

Click here to learn more and discover your VocalQ!

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!

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!