July 29, 2020

The Power of Cloud Based Text to Speech for Call Centers

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Cloud based Text to Speech (TTS) is a valuable technology for contact centers. Agents and customers benefit greatly from TTS, and here’s how!

“Hey, Siri…”

“Hi, Alexa…”

“OK, Google…”

Everywhere and anywhere we turn these days, Voice Recognition innovation is present. In our homes. On our phones. Even in our cars.

And for good reason. Voice Recognition is a powerful technology and tool that (most of the time) makes our lives easier, more productive, and quite literally listens to and (again, mostly) satisfies our wants and desires.

It’s by no means perfect, but Voice Recognition is not only here to stay, it’s only going to play a more prominent role in our lives than it already does.

One perfect example is something we most likely use every single day: Speech to Text (STT).

In fact, it’s become such an indelible part of our lives, we’d bet you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person who’s “amazed” by this technology anymore.

Speech to Text is the very thing that enables you to send a message to, let’s say, your Mom using nothing but the magic of your own voice.

“Hey Siri, text Mom: Love you!” And then, voila, the words you just spoke into existence travel into the phone, are transformed into a text, which then moves through cell tower after cell tower all the way to dear ol’ mum.

Whoa. Pretty impressive stuff.

But there’s a lesser-known tool of Voice Recognition technology that’s just as (if not more) powerful, especially for contact centers. And if you’ve called into a contact center before, you’ve most likely experienced this tool for yourself.

It’s called Text to Speech, also known as TTS. Technically speaking, it’s a speech synthesis technology that translates written text into spoken words. Yes, the opposite of Speech to Text.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the power of TTS—specifically the benefits for contact centers. Agents and customers alike can and do benefit greatly from this capability, and it’s crucial we understand its value in today’s Voice Recognition world.

What is Text to Speech?

TTS was originally developed as a technology to assist the visually impaired, helping them to understand website content (the contents of websites are spoken aloud). Now, TTS is a common feature in most, if not all, websites, computers, tablets, phones, digital apps—you name it.

As we mentioned above, Text to Speech is a speech synthesis technology, meaning that it synthesizes spoken words from written text, on the fly, instead of playing back a pre-recorded message.

Think about our hypothetical text message to Mom from before. You sent it using Speech to Text. And with Text to Speech, Mom is able to play a spoken version of that text message without ever having to lay eyes on the original written message.

This is important to note because this is not an easy thing to do, especially with the English language. In English, there are so many words that have the same spelling, but also have different types of pronunciation, and very often, a different meaning altogether.

For example, let’s say you had texted Mom something different instead. Imagine you’d like to ask her about her famous chocolate chip cookie recipe.

“Hey Siri, text Mom: How much butter do I need?”

Now, this may seem like a simple text message but think about the work that has to go on behind the scenes. Voice Recognition (both STT and TTS) technology needs to figure out if it should spell and pronounce the word “butter” like the ingredient you use to cook with, or the phrase “but her” which would make for a very strange text indeed.

Picture using STT to send your Mom a message that says “How much but her would I need?” and there’s no doubt at all that when it’s read to her via TTS, she’d be rightly confused.

But with the power of Voice Recognition, STT and especially TTS, machine learning technology is working behind the scenes to calculate the different probabilities based on the context of your message, ultimately choosing the most likely spelling and pronunciation. Granted, it’s an imperfect approach, as we’ve all likely experienced, but for the most part, it does the job swimmingly.

The beauty of TTS is that it’s not limited to a single application. For example, users don’t have to be viewing a website through a certain piece of software for it to work. Cloud-based text to speech uses an API, or application programming interface, which allows two or more disparate applications to communicate with one another. 

A good illustration of an API in action is when you use the internet to search for flights. You type your desired destination into a travel site like Kayak and boom–it instantly displays the available flights from every airline. How did Kayak pull in those flight details? Via an API that allows its service to communicate with that of the airlines. 

Text to speech APIs work in much the same way, allowing your device to capture your text and communicate the resulting spoken word through any number of other output methods. Now, let’s take a closer look at TTS and its many benefits for contact centers.

Cloud-based text to speech enhances customer satisfaction.

The Power of TTS for Call Centers

Mobile marketing is more important than ever in achieving customer satisfaction. Case in point: do you still have a landline? But we bet you most definitely have a cell phone.

With businesses and contact centers all wanting to improve the experience for their customers, cloud-based telephony platforms need to ensure they have the right technology to help bridge potential communication gaps—and make communication more fluid and seamless.

Text to Speech is a technology that does just that. Sure, it may not be the newest technology on the block. It might not be the shiny, new “innovative” feature in the latest platform update. But it can be incredibly valuable to take a deeper look at how this existing technology is being used in innovative ways today.

Let’s explore how contact centers are using TTS to improve their agent and customer experiences (and therefore agent and customer satisfaction), as well as delivering increased ROI for their bottom lines:

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

An IVR should have a powerful plugin option like Text to Speech that allows call flows to be configured using DTMF (dual tone multi frequency) keypress options, so responses can be recorded accurately for things like receiving customer feedback.

With Text to Speech, for example, contact centers are conducting surveys and getting higher customer response rates when compared to email or SMS. TTS enables the use of dynamic survey scripts that can be updated as needed instead of relying on traditional pre-recorded messages. Survey creators simply update the survey text by typing.

Expand Reach

By using Text to Speech, contact centers are reaching a larger customer base than ever before, opening up new communication opportunities that could otherwise not exist—with the visually impaired, for example.

Expanding on point #1 above, TTS also helps contact centers get more positive feedback by making it easier and more convenient for customers to deliver that feedback. Surveys can be sent to a larger group of customers, and the content of those surveys can be static or dynamic as needed.

Outbound Dialing

Contact centers use Text to Speech for outbound calls because it works faster and because it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to do outbound dialing. TTS phone calls automate the redundant process of having to dial thousands or even millions of calls per day without having to repeat the same thing over and over again.

With TTS, contact centers are triggering outbound dials for routine calls designed to let customers know about payment reminders, promotional offers, appointment times, and more—allowing human agents to take care of more high-touch, high-value calls. Not only does this improve experiences for customers, but it also helps to deliver more ROI.

SMS Campaigns

SMS marketing campaigns impose restrictions such as character limitations, country-specific regulations, and more. Contact centers use Text to Speech technology because it works in concert with those restrictions, and supplements the effectiveness of SMS campaigns by helping to amplify reach.

Because of TTS, you can create a text message and turn it into a call to any mobile phone or landline around the world. When the customer answers, they hear the spoken message. This allows you to stay in line with SMS compliance rules and reach the customer in an unexpected and more personalized way.

Many Languages

Building on the point above about expanding reach, TTS is making it easier for contact centers to reach customers in multiple languages across different countries. Messages can simply be typed and then translated into the specific language(s) you need, eliminating the need for one or more humans to speak and record the content with the accent of a native speaker.

As you can imagine, this could help you reach out to customers on a much more personal level. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Wouldn’t you rather have a company quite literally speak to you on your level and in your language?

More Human

Not only does TTS help contact centers reach out to customers in a more personalized way, it also makes the typical telephone call seem more human and interactive than the technology used to allow for. Text to Speech has come a long way in turning what was once a very robotic experience into one that feels more like sitting across from a friend and having a conversation.

The customer experience is all about the human touch, and Text to Speech is an unexpected but powerful way to add that touch to your communication approach.

Lower Operational Costs

Research shows that contact centers are reducing their operational costs by up to 70% using Text to Speech software, especially with regard to outbound dialing, and also with inbound dialing when powered by the right Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

This is because contact centers are able to reduce manual intervention by automating appropriate dialing processes and call flows with TTS. Millions of calls can be processed automatically, potentially allowing you to do more work with fewer agents, and certainly enabling your agents to work more effectively by focusing on the most important calls at hand.

The Cloud

With the help of the right telephony software, Text to Speech audio can be processed incredibly quickly and then uploaded automatically into cloud-based web platforms. No more complicated or lengthy updates are needed.

This makes it easier for contact centers to reach more customers more efficiently with dynamic messages that can be updated or changed on the fly.

Reduce Errors

Contact centers are using TTS to listen to the text that has been inputted by customers, thereby reducing errors from agents and allowing for more accuracy—something that would otherwise be impossible without the use of Text to Speech technology.

With fewer errors from agents and more accuracy overall, you’re able to drive more efficiency where you couldn’t before.

Cloud-based text to speech lets contact centers reach customers in a more effective way.

Improve Contacts

Thanks to TTS, contact centers can reach customers in a more effective way. How? Because Text to Speech allows for customization of text according to campaign requirements; it’s possible to enter either dynamic text, static text, or a mixture of both as necessary for a given campaign.

More routine calls can be automated and implemented using a static message, whereas fluid messaging (promotional offers, for example) can be handled via dynamic text.

The additional benefits of text to speech for customer service

Facilitate learning

Thus far we’ve talked mostly about the business benefits of cloud-based text to speech, but it also has some pretty incredible capabilities when it comes to helping people learn. Students who are struggling with dyslexia, ADHD or other learning disabilities can benefit from hearing spoken words as they follow along with text on the page. Assistive technology can even highlight the sections of text as they’re being read, helping those learners to pair the appearance of a word with the way it sounds. By focusing more on the content of the material rather than the act of reading it, students with disabilities gain a better understanding rather than simply being frustrated by the challenge of deciphering meaning from words on the page. 

Enable convenience

People with a lengthy commute, both students and professionals, may have limited time to read. Cloud-based text to speech can help these groups tackle reading assignments without having to actually look at the pages. 

Text to speech is also a convenient tool for those learning a new language. For a language like English, which is notorious for having multiple spellings of words that sound the same (think there/their/they’re), cloud-based text to speech can help language learners grasp which version of the word goes with which meaning. 

Enhance branding

Having a consistent TTS voice across platforms can strengthen a brand’s identity. When a customized voice is used to communicate with customers who contact sales, seek out support, or simply go on your website to ask a question, it reinforces their feeling of “knowing” your brand, which makes them more likely to buy. 

Taken one step further, brands have the ability to cement an emotional connection by customizing text to speech voices based on a customer’s location. So, you could theoretically use one voice for callers in the U.S. and another for callers in the U.K., each sounding similar to their location-specific human counterparts. This makes TTS a powerful tool for global market penetration.

The Future of Cloud Based TTS in the Call Center

As the demand for text to speech capabilities grows, so does its future potential. Here are a few of the use cases that could be on the horizon. 

Improved accuracy

The accuracy rate of TTS is already pretty impressive, especially for English. But it’s not 100% accurate and its capabilities in other languages are lacking. In the near future, we’ll likely see the word error rate (WER) of TTS continue to decline as technology gets better at discerning words based on context cues. Its accuracy in other languages should improve as well, helping organizations further broaden their global reach. 

Customer-specific language models

If you’re someone who’s constantly annoyed when your smartphone autocorrects your name, you may have already discovered that you can avoid the inconvenience by adding your name to your own personal ‘dictionary.’ This way, your phone knows that in your world, you do in fact mean ‘Amy’ and not ‘any.’ It’s a similar idea behind customer-specific language models, in which machine learning is used to make TTS decisions based on customer data. For example, when dealing with your customers in the finance sector, the technology could more accurately decipher and speak commonly used terms like APY, FDIC and Roth IRA. 

Confidential computing

Customer interactions by nature are going to contain some privileged information. As more and more organizations rely on cloud providers to deploy technologies like TTS, there’s an increasing need for features that protect private data while it’s in transit. Confidential computing isolates the sensitive data in a conversation that’s being processed and uses encryption to make sure it can’t be accessed by unauthorized parties, including the cloud service provider. We anticipate this feature will become more of a necessity in the coming years. 

As you can see, Text to Speech technology may not be the newest, shiniest, or most talked about technology these days. But it has never been a more powerful part of the modern contact center than it is today.

Does your contact center employ TTS? Do you use it in the ways above to make the agent and customer experience better? To improve agent and customer satisfaction? To improve ROI for your company?

Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes. Not only that, innovation also evolves as time goes on.

We hope this article helps you understand more about Text to Speech technology.

Even more important than that, we hope it helps you to see how this “once-innovative” technology is being used in very innovative ways in today’s contact center environment.

LiveVox SpeechIQ ® can help

​​From risk reduction to agent coaching, speech analytics can be a game-changer when looking for a text to speech solution.

With our next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion interactions a year, we seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice as well as quality management programs to drive performance in your contact center. LiveVox clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment with a single view of the customer while also using our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise 

To learn more, schedule a demo today.

Speech Analytics FAQ

What is Text to Speech?

TTS was originally developed as a technology to assist the visually impaired, helping them to understand website content (the contents of websites are spoken aloud). Now, TTS is a common feature in most, if not all, websites, computers, tablets, phones, digital apps—you name it.

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About LiveVox

LiveVox (Nasdaq: LVOX) is a next generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion omnichannel interactions a year. By seamlessly unifying blended omnichannel communications, CRM, AI, and WEM capabilities, the Company’s technology delivers exceptional agent and customer experiences, while helping to mitigate compliance risk. With 20 years of cloud experience and expertise, LiveVox’s CCaaS 2.0 platform is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. The Company has more than 650 global employees and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Atlanta; Columbus; Denver; St. Louis; Medellin, Colombia; and Bangalore, India. To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox or visit livevox.com.

To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox, visit www.livevox.com or call one of our specialists at (844) 207-6663.

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