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[September 3, 2004]

Stop YELLING at me!



"This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.�  

Anytime you hear that oft annoying but legally necessary statement, chances are NICE Systems, Ltd. (news alert quote) is recording your call. NICE is a provider, obviously, of telephone digital recording systems, and it offers a new technology that detects emotion.

As we all know from having become incredibly frustrated, frenetic, livid�nay, wrathful�whilst speaking with our bank or our cable or phone company, a manager on the other end of the telephone sometimes does and sometimes doesn�t intervene on the conversation. NICE�s emotion detection informs the manager, should he choose to intervene, of the �aggravation� before it even hits its peak.  

Cable Agent: But, Mr. Poocher, we never received your bill payment. 

Me: I know I sent it last week. I know because I sent it out the day I got my paycheck. 

Agent: It�s not in our records, Mr. Mutcher. 

Me: Dude, the cable switched off right in the middle of �Six Feet Under.�  

Agent: Ha. I mean: Sir, I�m sorry to hear that. Maybe you should have sent us your check more than three days before it was due. 

Me: What? Listen! I missed half the episode! I don�t even know if Keith �paid off� David�s restitution to the lawyer guy by� 

Manager: Hello, Mr. Tutcher. I�m the manager. Is there something I can help you with? 

Me: [Sigh] Your company�s stupid. 

When your voice hits a certain decibel, NICE�s call monitoring system will issue an alert to the call center manager that there�s a problem. An alert will also be issued when harsh/foul language is used or if the name of a competitor is mentioned (name-droppers). This alert can more quickly resolve the potentially hostile issue, as it will bring a speedier intervention by a manager. 

Companies spend a large amount of money to acquire customers, and the good companies will do nearly everything they can to keep those customers and not undervalue them. Like all recorded calls, the indignant call here will be digitized and stored on a server, where it can be batched with other angry calls. It can be searched by keyword and be e-mailed as a sound file among the company managers, addressing the quandary system-wide; thus, illuminating the managers to what embitters callers.  

As well as being recorded, the call will also be saved for training purposes and corporate analysis. 

The only adversity this technology has, it appears, is that managers will not be able to get their normal work done�these alerts of animosity are bound to be going off every two minutes. 

This innovation is presently being used in beta testing by FedEx Custom Critical, as well as other companies. 

NICE Systems serves 67 of the Fortune 100, including 10 of the top 10 banks, capturing 50 million customer calls per day. Its corporate headquarters are in Israel, with offices around the world.


David R. Butcher is the assistant editor for Customer [email protected] Solutions Magazine.

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