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LumenVox in 8 Minutes – With Avaya

LumenVox in 8 Minutes – With Avaya

Avaya Podcast Network spoke with our very own Jeff Hopper, Vice President Business Development, for the 8 & Out podcast, a series featuring Avaya Select Product Partners. LumenVox has been a proud Avaya Supported Select Products Provider since 2012 and offers LumenVox Call Progress Analysis, LumenVox Speech Recognizer and the LumenVox Speech-to-Text Server on the Avaya DevConnect Marketplace. In this interview, Jeff explains new, exciting innovations within LumenVox’ technology stack as well as his perspective on the industry itself—where it’s headed, and how LumenVox can continue to set itself apart with flexible, cost-effective solutions.

Read the Transcript Below:

Hey this is Bill Petty with APN, the Avaya Podcast Network. I’m sitting here live on the Avaya engage 2020 floor, talking with Jeff Hopper of LumenVox. Jeff thanks for joining us.

Thank you very much Bill. I’m really delighted to be here, despite the raspy voice from three days on the trade show floor.

I think we all have a little experience with that. So, tell me a little bit about what LumenVox is doing and what you are pitching here to our customers and channels?

Sure, LumenVox is a provider of speech recognition technologies including speech recognition, text to speech, call progress analysis and voice biometrics for authentication for your callers in your customer self-service or your contact center environment.

And how pervasive is speech-to-text these days?

You know, it used to not be so much, but now it’s everywhere. We all have things like Amazon Echoes, or Google Homes, or other personal assistant devices, so it’s become an expected component of a contact center these days for self-service and for assisting the agents.

Right, and I know LumenVox is a long-standing relationship partner with Avaya but, tell us a little bit about the kind of progression of what’s happening these days.

Absolutely. It’s one of the most exciting parts of where we are now in our journey with Avaya and with the Avaya customers and partners channel. I’ve been at LumenVox 8 years, my 7th IAUG in that capacity, and when I started we were a DevConnect member. We had developed some business overseas more than in the North American market and then we progressed into the SPP program about 5 years ago. We had some phenomenal growth in business and awareness in the Avaya customer base. We’ve taken on several dozen new large customers in the ecosystem, and just this past year, we’ve signed a further advancement of that agreement. We now have official Avaya part codes so our product can be ordered through Avaya as a reseller – making the process much simpler for everybody and just hopefully helping to accelerate the ease of adopting our speech recognition products.

So I know that as we move a company through that type of relationship models, you start with DevConnect and you go into the SPP (which is a big deal and you know they’re very selective about who they choose) and then they move into a resale model or kind of expanding the approachability and the availability of the solutions. Tell me a little bit about what’s really driving that relationship from the LumenVox and Avaya side.

I would be delighted, and I think it’s the thing from a personal point of pride I’ve been involved with the last 8 years, so I really take some joy in this. I think the best exemplar I have is our Net Promoter Score. We have sustained an 89 average Net Promoter Score, and in a business to business model, you know you’re working your keister off to accomplish that for your customers. Our customers and our partners consistently come back and say “great job,” “easy to work with,” “the product is easy to install, configure and use,” so we have just tried to reduce the friction of using speech recognition in the environment. Make it easy for everybody to use that technology effectively in their contact center and in their self-service.

Oh, that’s fantastic! You know, at Avaya, one of our key slogans at this time is “Experiences that Matter,” so apparently LumenVox is making the experience of installing and using and implementing and configuring the solution, they’re making that experience very positive. Share with me a little bit about the experience of the end-users, how is this relating to what’s going on, and how your solution is kind of a game-changer?

Speech recognition was always something kind of like Harry Potter magic. You had to go to Hogwarts and learn some secret wizard handshakes and incantations. We’ve just tried to simplify that install-configure-and-use part, and then we’ve tried to do work to enable the channel partners that actually build applications to raise their skill level, raise their expertise and user interface design. All the things that allowed them to work with the end customers to get a really great customer experience out of the applications.

How is the relationship with Avaya progressing as far as a technology development perspective as you look for opportunities to build hooks and implement within our shared structure? How are things working from that perspective?

It’s been a marvelous year. I was in New York back in November to meet with a team of Avaya executives at the Briefing Center and we exposed some new technology that we’re bringing to the table in 2020. We’re adding a new approach if you will, to conversational speech recognition. Where those have been very closed proprietary systems in the past, we’re building a mechanism to allow you to use commercially available AI tools to bring AI to conversational speech, it’s not proprietary. You’ll be able to use any of the major AI resources, you know whether it’s tensor flow in a data center level, or Google or Watson, or any of those things, and the speech recognition in your self-service applications. You can reuse AI that you’ve already created for other channels and more easily incorporated into the product stack.

How’s this improving the customers experience?

The better, or more well-trained, AI models are [improving the customer experience], and we all know the people who have been working on those kind of things. When you’ve got a better tool set, not a proprietary one, but stuff that lots of people are contributing to, it just makes it easier to get the AI right to give an appropriate response to the caller and make their experience less friction bound if you will.

As you look towards 2020 and start building these new measurement tools, what are you going to be delivering for the customer and how is that going to improve what they’re seeing in the use of the LumenVox solution?”

So, from the customer who implements this perspective, they’ll be able to take advantage of other initiatives they’ve already done, like chat bots for example, and voice enable them in their customer pathways through the contact center. They won’t have to rebuild the entire thing twice with the new learning model; they can simply voice enable. I always say, give your chatbot a voice.

I love the idea of a voice enabled chat bot because I have big thumbs.

Yes, me too.

And I have a really hard time trying to type on that little keyboard in an amount of time that somebody, or the bot, is actually waiting for me to respond. I should be able to talk into it and say, “I need, this is what I’m looking for,” and not have to type it.

Let the computer change the speech into text. One of the things that we can add here is because we have such a complete stack of products now with voice biometric authentication, we can help you secure those application pathways as well as service them with the speech recognition in the AI technology.

So, tell me something unique about what LumenVox is doing. I know we’re here on a tradeshow floor and we’re amongst all these partners; give me an idea of what LumenVox is doing that’s kind of new and unique, especially if it has something to do with what Avaya is doing in the market space.

Sure, I think the thing that we’re focused on the most, and I’ve mentioned it a little bit earlier, is making this stuff easier to use and incorporate into the solutions that get to the end customer, to the caller in that respect so that there is lower project costs, quicker time to market. Basically, accelerating and making it easier is a big enhancement because we all know it’s been an area that was kind of a black box traditionally and between technology advancements in the software and how we produce these things a real strident focus on quality and management user interface to make those things simpler, get rid of any friction we can essentially and then the growth in computational capacity with cloud computing in the general reduction in the cost of computing have all brought us to a place in time where speech should be ubiquitous and should be expected component of the customer service path.

Well, it is becoming more and more pervasive that’s no doubt.

Absolutely.

That’s something that we’re all seeing, and I think it’s something we’re all becoming a little more comfortable with.

Especially if you’re in my generation.

Well yah, it was tough, you’d question the little device sitting on your desk that’s listening to every word you say to see if you talk to it. But I think we’re becoming a little more comfortable with that. You know, our cell phone’s listening to every word. I can guarantee it that the ads that pop up on social media because I talked about wanting to buy my wife a weighted blanket, then all of a sudden I’ve got an ad for a weighted blanket showing up on my phone within an hour. I don’t put my tin foil hat on though.

I agree with you completely. You know, we get into that question in our space. Like with the voice biometrics, we’ve built a set of products that are very secure. They made GDPR compliance in Europe for the ability to protect people’s privacy, which is essentially the highest standard around the globe today. We are very mindful of those elements of our product development process to in making all the things secure whether they’re in your premise in a private cloud or even in a public cloud in that case.

So Jeff, I know you guys are here on the floor, and for those that are out there listening, please make sure you go to the Avaya DevConnect marketplace at devconnectmarketplace.com, look up LumenVox, and find out about their solutions. Jeff, thank you so much for sitting down talking with us today.

I appreciate it very much Bill, it’s been a pleasure.

Questions about our solutions? Contact us today!

LumenVox Featured by CrmXchange for CCW

LumenVox Featured by CrmXchange for CCW

Recently the LumenVox team attended CCW to empower businesses to deliver seamless yet secure customer communication through advanced speech and authentication solutions. While there, we had the opportunity to have been interviewed by CrmXchange for their CCW Nashville 2020 column: Solution Providers and End Users Harmonize in Music City 

Read our interview below, or download the eBook version here.

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What are the key areas of focus for LumenVox?

Good question. We have zeroed in on the following:

Speech Recognition: This includes conversational IVR with text-to-speech capabilities that create a very functional, conversational IVR self-service.

Voice Biometrics: We get really excited about this, as it addresses a huge threat to businesses right now—fraud. Voice biometrics is used to keep customers safe, to secure authentication and keep the customer experience painless and easy. Businesses can implement voice biometrics using IVR, mobile applications or in the contact center.

In 2019 we hit over a million voiceprints. For 2020, our development team combined customer feedback with their biometric expertise and created a robust passive engine, which allows for machine learning to enhance features and customer benefits. With the inclusion of Deep Neural Network technology, LumenVox has positioned itself to provide higher accuracy, more fraud prevention tools and increased customer satisfaction/ service.

There are numerous companies in your space…how do your solutions stand out from your competitors?

We’re easier to work with in every way. Our company is very focused on our channel partners. And our customers rave about how flexible the architecture and capabilities are. Our consistently high NPS scores (currently 89) reflect how much they appreciate our responsiveness. All speech recognizers and text-to-speech engines perform the same tasks, but they really don’t offer the higher value that comes from our simple install-configure-use approach. Things like our built-in diagnostics make it quick and easy to set up or troubleshoot things, and the LumenVox Speech Tuner is the easiest product on the market to implement and improve the performance of your speech applications, based on real customer usage.

On the voice biometrics side, while we do the installation and training, we’re also very open and flexible: We have APIs that are easily integrated into a contact center agent’s desktop or CRM applications. We see this as an important differentiator because managers really want applications consolidated. So the capability to take our biometrics results and integrate that information smoothly makes it easier for everyone.

From an implementation services standpoint, we don’t lock our customers into having to use our professional services. We enable both our partners and IVR developers to work from various platforms, using their own services while deploying our speech recognition technology. Our holistic approach results in us being more competitive, or and cost-effective. We don’t think cutting-edge technology needs to come at a premium price. We want this technology to be available to everyone.

Can you define how biometrics work in the contact center?

All biometrics measure something you’re made of. We’re used to smartphones using fingerprints and facial recognition/ faceprints to authenticate us now. Makes you feel more secure, right? The call center is evolving, too, and with our technology can create the same level of protection using the human voice. An enterprise contact center obtains a sample of your voice and converts it into a secure file called a voiceprint. Once there’s a voiceprint on file, the next time you call into the center, you don’t have to answer those painful security questions (which, by the way, are often vulnerable to theft). Using a voiceprint means that as a consumer you have a better calling experience. And as a business, you get more security.

Is it possible to fraudulently manipulate a voice biometric? Can someone pick up a customer’s voice pattern or convincingly imitate them?

Well, even mothers can be fooled by twins. We don’t want to be so hubristic as to claim that we somehow have something over Mother Nature. But voice biometrics takes major precautions: We use multiple factors when creating the voiceprint. The human ear might not be able to detect an impersonator, but our solution will notice hundreds of subtle differences. A company can also use multiple phrases as an identifier or ask varying questions to prevent a breach.

The truth is customers understand that the threat is real and want an added layer of unique security. A recent study noted that 74% of Americans believe that biometrics is a more secure method of verifying accounts than traditional PINs and passwords. Hacks and data breaches are commonplace occurrences now. And there are long, long gaps in notification—customers may not know they were exposed for nine months sometimes. Since many people tend to use the same PINs and passwords for multiple accounts, they are vulnerable. Voice biometrics protects and defends privacy. It’s that simple.

In what industries are recognition technologies becoming prevalent?

Any and all, as the desire for a seamless customer-agent interaction increases. People want to reach a customer representative to solve the bigger, more complex problems and spend their valuable time self-servicing/ solving the easier ones on their own. We’re working more and more with financial institutions and healthcare providers, as we have the capabilities to not only enhance their IVR experience, but also provide stronger security. As businesses grow, we see these two factors go hand-in-hand. People want security, but they don’t want to compromise speed and efficiency to get it. Our —speech solutions provide the best of both worlds.

What are some of the tangible benefits of Natural Language Processing IVR applications?

NLU gives self-service that human touch that people really seek in the customer journey. It’s the best of all worlds: Customers can help themselves quickly, but can also feel as if they’re doing it effortlessly–with a fellow human mind at the helm. As for LumenVox, our new Conversational ASR combines 20 years of experience in Speech Recognition with the latest in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, allowing any business to build new AI-based IVR applications that support natural language processing and intent determination from an existing voice application platform (IVR). The best part is that as a business you really don’t have to start from scratch to do this. Text-based AI tools can be given a voice with LumenVox ASR. You can leverage your existing infrastructure and preferred tools to provide rich, voice based self-service that exceeds expectations.

Questions about our solutions? Contact us today!

Introducing the LumenVox Luminary

Fifteen years ago, I embarked on a project to speech-enable the call center of another company I was running. We had over a million users of our IVR application and needed to reduce the number of questions and calls handled by an agent. At first, we just needed the engine to recognize some “yes/no” questions and city/state. Within a couple years of development, we had an engine that would sufficiently answer a small but reasonable fraction of those rudimentary questions and allow our agents to spend time on higher-value conversations with customers.

We spun off in 2001, operating under the name of LumenVox. Enhancing the accuracy of our engine while understanding how to create a great voice user application was our number one goal. We did this while simultaneously expanding on the suite of self-service applications, which allowed us to divert a more substantial percentage of calls to automation. Customer satisfaction rose while providing our customers immediate answers 24 hours a day without having to wait on hold for an agent.

In 2006, comfortable with the maturity and stability of our software, we began to market our solution to other companies. One of the early adopters of our software was an IVR-based financial services solution provider. Enabling their banking application placed us in over 600 banks and credit unions, running thousands of ports across the country. All of this experience further hardened our offering and gave us the wind in our sails to proceed with more development.

Fast forward to today with the consolidation in the speech recognition marketplace and becoming one of a few companies that offers an ASR, TTS and a Speech Tuner Application to our partners. With thousands of installations and hundreds of partners, we have created a fault tolerant, scalable, carrier-grade suite of products that is finding its way into some of the most well-known businesses in the world. For us to be able to see these companies benefit from our software thrills us. This is our technical artistry and the accolades we get from our customers drives us to do better.

From now on, I will be taking time with this Blog to discuss a variety of topics including challenges faced by us and by the market, how we are addressing them and where we are going. I would also like to know what topics are of interest to you! I hope this blog is informative, insightful and demonstrates our deep passion for what we do. If you have any questions or comments or just want to chat, you are always welcome to write to me at Ed@LumenVox.com or call me at 858-707-7700.