To Tell The Truth

Voice-stress technology analyzes angry customers, wayward spouses, and everyone in between
person’s voice can reveal many emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, even ambivalence. But outside of polygraphs, it’s difficult to hear what the voice isn’t saying. With that in mind, new and innovative technologies are allowing businesses to use voice-stress analysis tools to detect lies and other emotions to prevent everything from insurance fraud to unsatisfied customers.

There’s no doubt that strong customer service is integral to a healthy business. NICE Performance technology records customer calls and also flags words, highlights moments of emotional distress, and even gives supervisors a snapshot of the call agents’ computer screens when a call comes in. Managers can then pinpoint specific “high-risk” clients, listen to their calls, and make sure the call agent isn’t playing Minesweeper through the entire transaction. The technology can even rank call agents according to the number of high-risk calls they handle, identify the strongest call agents, and provide an assessment of the company’s overall performance in customer service.

NICE Performance is used at 20 companies, including FedEx Custom Critical, PharmaCare, and the National Bank of Canada, with another 25 or 30 businesses waiting to implement the system. While NICE Performance starts at $100,000, NICE offers slightly less sophisticated systems for smaller companies, with prices starting at about $10,000.

“Any business owner that does business through the phone wants a better sense of what its customer needs and wants,” said Eyal Danon, NICE’s sales and marketing director. “NICE Performance really allows companies to give a guarantee to customers. There’s no excuse for poor service.”

How do you know if your auto mechanic is lying about your transmission or if your spouse is cheating on you? A company named V markets software that it claims will help people find the truth. V is the exclusive North American distributor of Nemesysco’s layered voice analysis solutions, or LVA technology. LVA applications measure 129 voice parameters to find a variety of emotional responses. Unlike a polygraph, which analyzes physiological responses, LVA analyzes voice frequencies to identify true and false statements. More importantly, the truth-detection technology can be used in live or recorded conversations, in person or over the phone, so it doesn’t need to be administered in the same room. The analyzer can be linked to a telephone, PDA, or pocket PC.

LVA’s claim verification tools are already being used by insurance companies in Europe. Rich Parton, CEO of V, notes that in London, insurance firms have saved 25% on fraudulent claims — savings that could amount to $31 billion a year in the U.S. The technology is also helpful for police departments, homeland security, call center agents trying to detect extreme emotion, and human resources departments screening potential employees.

In private life, the technology can be used as a “love detector” (an actual V entertainment product) and can, of course, detect lies told by others, from a dishonest car dealer to a wayward spouse. LVA can even be used to test the emotional state of those considering suicide.

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