Accent translation software is the shiny new tool in the contact center industry, and hopes are high for what it could mean for markets where accent friction is a common problem at home. CX agents.
voice technology company Sanas launched its eponymous accent translation software in June during the latest edition of Customer Contact Week (CCW). The company has already entered into a partnership with the BPO giant Aloricawho expects a lot from what the Sanas translator will mean for the market.
“We believe this breakthrough technology truly offers our existing and new customers the ability to tap into markets that they may not have been able to consider in the past for voice due to accent concerns,” said Michael MooreSenior VP of CX & Digital Solutions at Alorica, in an interview.
Described by Marty Sarim – President of Sanas – as an “accent synthesis tool”, the software is installed, like any other application, on the agent’s desktop. It works like a digital microphone that modulates the speaker’s voice in real time, eliminating all traces of accent. What comes out the other side sounds like any standard, neutral American voice.
Although it seems like a minor issue, the accents are a key factor in interactions between CX agents and customers. Accent friction can make conversations awkward, making the agent’s job more difficult. They can also be unpleasant for customers, making the experience irritating and, in some cases, leading to agent harassment.
Alorica expects Sanas to make accent friction a non-issue and reopen avenues to markets where agents with heavy accents are common, such as India and other Asian countries.
“It helps to change that dynamic again and reopen the Indian market specifically,” Moore said. “But we also see this as an advantage in the Philippines, to ensure that we can expand our talent pool, especially in some of our provincial locations. Also in Central America, where we will be able to ensure that we can expand our talent pool in many ways. »
Although Sanas agrees, the company takes a broader view of its software. Marty Sarim – who calls the software a ‘GDP shifter’ – sees the translator being used globally to serve countries outside of the US and other major markets in the Anglosphere.
“The British struggle with [understanding] Australians, and Australians have a hard time with Africans, and Africans have a hard time with Eastern Europeans. It is a global solution. It’s not just for America; it’s not just for English,” he said in an interview.
High hopes for reduced attrition
Alorica hopes Sanas will make the experience more enjoyable for CX agents, which in turn could reduce the high levels of attrition the industry is known for.
The company claims that, according to its own internal surveys, agents tend to worry about their accents when talking to customers. Software that “standardizes” voices will make agents more confident in their interactions with customers, leading to improvements in performance metrics such as speed and handle times, Moore explained.
“We believe this type of technology will facilitate communications, which will then have a positive impact on our agents and customers,” Alorica’s communications team added in a written statement. “In our experience, happy employees stay with their employer longer and provide exceptional service that leads to satisfied customers.”
Attrition rate in CX vary from company to company, but most estimates put it between 30% and 40%, with agent turnover occurring within a year of being hired. Some surveys show attrition figures nearly 60%.
While there are several reasons for high turnover in contact centers, customer harassment is a common problem that agents suffer from, as well as a major driver of attrition. For contact center workers, being verbally abused on the phone for their accent is not unheard of.
“At the agent level, there are a lot of issues that arise with agents that lead to attrition, which is the biggest expense in a call center,” commented Marty Sarim. “Officers are human beings, so when you are constantly harassed, you play defense. And when you’re playing defense on a phone, you don’t have the best customer satisfaction skills. »
What happens after
Although less than a month has passed since the launch of Sanas, the company is already planning what comes next for the software.
Sarim told NSAM that his team is working on customization options for the app, which is still officially in its infancy. Agents will be able to choose to have a male or female voice, and even choose an accent that best suits the customer’s region. They will be able to sound English, Southwestern, Bostonian, Texan, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, etc. Sanas will also adjust the adaptation of the software to more regional accents and fix minor bugs.
Although it is at an early stage, Alorica assured to be very satisfied with the functioning of Sanas. The company will run an alpha launch of the software this week, testing it with its own agents. Testing with customers will take place weeks later, during the planned beta launch.
“It will reopen the world,” assured Marty Sarim, with palpable enthusiasm in his voice. “It works, man; I tell you. It’s cool.