Invoca is all about helping organizations sell more stuff. Their particular area of focus is the phone call. Invoca’s Voice Marketing Cloud helps businesses understand customer intent, find out about the caller, and analyze what is being said within conversations. The idea of all that Invoca does is to enable marketers to apply this intelligence to the various marketing tools they use in an effort to SELL MORE STUFF.

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and tone input via the keypad. Of course, IVR is the bane of every customer’s existence, but a support tool that the bean counters love since it reduces the number of physical support staff that they need to pay. And where machines can replace real human beings, the accountants get excited.

But, as I mentioned, the promise of IVR (y’know, an experience as good as having a conversation with a real-life call taker, but at a fraction of the cost) isn’t generally met. I’d hazard a guess that everyone reading this has spent many hours in IVR hell. My own personal approach (admittedly low-tech, but generally effective) is to swear at the IVR with increasingly foul curse words until I’m put through to a real person. Like I said, crude, but often effective.

One would have thought that, in this day and age when voice recognition has become so impressively accurate, that IVR would have kept up. But here’s the rub – simply understanding speech and actually understanding the context and nuance behind the words are two different things – and traditionally IVR hasn’t kept up with the technological advances in the dual fields of speech recognition and language understanding.

Invoca is keen to resolve that issue and is today announcing a new offering, Invoca Signal AI, a tool that it suggests delivers the holy grail of machine learning to speech recognition. And since the biggest area of excitement for businesses is getting more business, Invoca is applying its technology to its Voice Marketing Cloud such that marketers can gain deeper insights into its phone conversations with customers. Sadly, this isn’t about providing better customer support to increasingly frayed customers who navigating the harrowing support journey that IVR creates but… never mind.

What it’s all about

Pretty simple, really. Signal AI analyzes the context of customers conversations in real time and identifies customer intent and behavior, as well as the outcome of the call. The idea being that this gives marketers the ability to analyze offline phone conversations and optimize digital marketing campaigns as they’ve done for online conversions.

And there is no shortage of calls to analyze – according to BIA/Kelsey, calls to businesses are expected to exceed 169 billion by 2020. Whereas traditional approaches see marketers trying to intuit insights from listening to individual calls or coarse keyword-spotting tools, this new offering harnesses the entire conversation and, as recognition and understanding algorithms improve with pace, the tool will hopefully get better and better over time. One customer already using the offering is 3 Day Blinds, Chief Revenue Office, Dan Williams, is effusive about the benefits:

We rely on digital marketing to find and build relationships with our customers, who then book appointments with us over the phone. A majority of our customers come through phone calls, so the importance of call intelligence cannot be overstated. With the new Invoca Signal AI we can more quickly identify the outcome of the call —  whether a customer booked an in-home visit or inquired about pricing. We can use this information to measure our marketing effectiveness while also building a stronger relationship with each customer with personalized interactions.

As I said, Signal takes advantage of pre-existing algorithms, but Invoca will continue to help those algorithms improve over time – this makes sense for a number of reasons and helps marketers apply machine learning from day one. Pre-trained, out-of-the-box predictive models for marketers who are getting started with machine learning and these models are based on millions of calls from industries including insurance, automotive, lending, telecommunications, home services and healthcare.

For those wanting more granularity, and who already have a dataset of conversations, users can customize Signal AI to understand a wider variety of customer behaviors and outcomes. These marketers, with access to internal data science teams, can use their company’s data sets to build and continuously tune custom Signal AI classifiers.

MyPOV

It’s a natural extension for Invoca and their customers will no doubt use the AI elements to give themselves a competitive differentiation. Obviously, I’d love this much innovation to be applied to customer service and support, but that’s not Invoca’s bread and butter. Marketing is, and this offering should do well for them.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

Leave a Reply