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.
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.
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