New Year, New Beginnings

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot

This New Year’s Eve post truly signifies a new beginning…a changing of the guard if you will.  As you may, or may not know, we have been acquired by Bright House Networks, and the acquisition is effective as of January 1st.

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As we look back, we are proud of the hard work and dedication by Telovites, past and present, that opened the door for new beginnings.  We are grateful that almost all of us are walking through that door together.  Looking forward, we are excited for this new opportunity.    Bright House shares our commitment to customers, our commitment to providing the best in customer care, and our commitment to innovation.   Combining our cloud-based unified communications with Bright House’s fiber network and broader portfolio of managed services means that we will be able to provide our clients with the most advanced business communication capabilities in the nation.  For that, we are humbled.

As for now, this little blog is going off-line.  It may just be temporary through the transition, it may come back as something a little different, or it may not come back at all.  We want to thank you for reading and sharing our passion for technology and telecommunications.  We hope that you enjoyed our posts and maybe learned something new.

From our family to yours, we wish you peace and prosperity in 2013.
ImagePhoto by David Lee Thompson

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Happy Holidays from our Family to Yours

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It is with a heavy heart when we think of the families in Newtown, CT.  We hope their spirits are lifted every time they hear of a random act of kindness being performed in honor of their loved ones.  26 people we have never met have instilled in us a renewed sense of what this season is truly about.  What a gift they have given us.  It is an honor to spread a little kindness in return.

If you are looking for some ideas of random acts of kindness – the Today show put together a list of ideas.  Sometimes though, the most powerful act of kindness doesn’t even cost a penny – it can be a smile and a kind word to someone who feeling down, it can be shoveling out your neighbor’s driveway, or it can be inviting someone without family to your holiday dinner.

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“To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

We wish you love and happiness this holiday season, and a new year filled with peace and prosperity.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Your Inbox

We’ve all experienced that heart-in-your-throat moment:  “Wait.  Did I hit Reply or Reply to All?

nervous on computerYou cautiously check your sent messages.  You want to look, you are afraid to look… you have to look.

Or even worse.

You don’t realize your mistake until the responses start pouring in.

reply to all cartoon

You may remember the student from NYU that meant to forward an email from the bursar’s office to his mother, but instead hit ‘reply to all.’  An event that became known as Reply-Allpocalyse.  This one was tame, the students joined in and had a good time with it; the only victim was NYU’s email server.

Then there was this poor guy.  His boss sent out a company wide email giving directives on a new project.  He meant to forward the email to a coworker in which he added honest assessments of their colleagues, and how valuable they would be on the project – but he hit ‘reply all’.  Everyone in the company received the email, including the colleagues he was speaking about.

We recently had an email mix-up at work.  While it was no ‘Reply-Allpocalyse,’ we all got a chuckle about it.  The main characters are Chris (a Telovite), Maja (who wasn’t supposed to get the email) and Christian (who was).  Here’s the story:

We had a couple of busy weeks recently, between Thanksgiving Holiday call traffic, vacation time and illnesses. This lead to a very hectic communications exchange and at some point some wires got crossed. Chris went to his inbox to respond to a recent email from Christian.  Instead of opening Christian’s email, he inadvertently opened an email from Maja.  He began to address Christian’s issue.

At the last second Chris realized he was supposed to send the information to Christian and his name was not in the To or CC field. He quickly added Christian’s name without any thought to Maja’s email address being in the To field.

The email was sent – and here’s what happened:

Maja:  I am curious, why did you CC Christian?

Chris:  I’m sorry, Maja. Please ignore my previous email. That one was not intended for you and was on a completely separate subject for another client.

Christian:  Just an FYI, you sent this to another client as yours as well. Not sure if this was meant for her, for me, or both.

Chris:  Thank you, Christian. I was working Maja’s issue around the same time and started back up with the wrong draft. I’ve emailed her an apology. Thanks for catching my mistake.

Christian:  It’s ok, I actually know her from a past job so if anything that was a fortuitous mistake as we are now catching up.

And Maja also wrote me back:

Maja:  I only ask because I worked with Christian 12 years ago and last week I wanted to look him up on LinkedIn. When I saw his name, I thought to myself, I wonder if this is the same Christian? And then I got below email……life is crazy sometimes.

Christian included this in one of his replies:

From Christian to Maja:  Not sure why Chris sent this to both of us, but your name rang a bell and after a quick look-up I realized I did in fact know you. Way back around 2000, I was consulting at Student Resources I think it was called, and we worked together for about a year. I want to say Diana was our coordinator.

Anyway, glad to see your doing well. I enjoyed our time there together, not so much the work but the conversations. I still go to all the good Croatian bakeries you told me about. And in fact I have been to Croatia several times since then, along with Slovenia, Montenegro and Serbia.

They continued an email exchange, catching up as old friends.

Maja is right – life is crazy sometimes.  It’s the unexpected moments, like reconnecting with an old friends, that make it so sweet.

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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.

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.