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The Psychological Aspects of Voice Recognition
March 23, 2017
We wrote about The Science of Voice Recognition not too long ago and covered most of the fantastic nuances that go into creating this AI machine. The art of artificial intelligence is that it mimics the humanity of communications; playing into our ego, cultural mannerisms, and even our prejudices.
Voice Recognition: Male or Female Voice?
Take, for example, a company’s thought process behind choosing a female versus a male voice for their system. According to Dr. Blade’s findings in The Art and Business of Speech Recognition, “Male voices are seen as having more authority on technical matters, and female voices are seen as being more nurturing.” This is why many technical support voice systems opt for male voices, whereas female voices are widely used as greetings for general customer service. Of course, many other factors contribute to a company’s decision to use either a male or female voice, such as the majority population of callers and the current sex of the spokesperson for the company. All of these factors contribute to whether or not a male or female voice would be the most appropriate for the company’s IVR and voice recognition system.
Voice Recognition: Anthropomorphize Conversations
Anthropomorphize is just a big word for “humanize.” Anthropomorphized voice systems speak more conversationally, using the first person singular, “I,” to address itself, as opposed to the more formal, “We,” or the third person, “The system.” For example, the anthropomorphized voice system might say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” rather than, “The system was not able to compute. Please try again.” As a general rule of thumb, it is much more effective to anthropomorphize conversations than it is to maintain a human-to-machine distance between the caller and the voice system. People simply connect more with voice personalities that are relatable. It creates a greater sense of intimacy, as though the machine really does care about solving the caller’s issues.
Companies should also avoid over-anthropomorphizing conversations. The bottom line is to always help the caller solve his or her issues in a timely manner, so too much chattiness or unnecessary comments can defeat the purpose of the call.
Voice Recognition: Does Flattery Work?
In another experiment performed by Dr. Blade, he tested whether or not flattery works in bringing more subscriptions. The result? It works almost every single time. Take this sample conversation, which summarizes how the conversations mostly played out when flattery was involved:
System: You did a great job of rating all those products! Would you mind if we released your name, email address, and preferences to some carefully selected partners of ours so that they can send you advertising?
System: That’s great—we appreciate your allowing us to send you marketing material. Partner advertising helps us keep our costs low and pass along the savings to you.
In these experimental conversations, Blade’s voice system not only complimented his callers, but it also explained why signing up for advertising actually benefits the caller in the end. This brings us to our next point: reciprocity.
Voice Recognition: Reciprocation
Reciprocation is the concept of, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” It works in governments, companies, and, unsurprisingly, voice communications. By offering callers an incentive for signing up or calling back, you ensure higher customer satisfaction ratings and retention levels. Here is an example of an IVR that indirectly practices reciprocation:
System: Sorry, I didn’t recognize you. Would you like to take a moment to teach me how you say your name? Yes or no?
System: OK, please say your name.
Caller: [Pronounces name]
System: Thanks. That will help for the next time you call.
The fact that the voice recognition took the time to learn the caller’s name says volumes about the company’s attention to detail. By properly learning the caller’s name, the voice recognition shows that it’s culturally sensitive and respectful of its callers. This small but significant detail gives the caller more incentive to make future calls to the same company.
Whether it comes to compliments, casual conversations, or reciprocation, the root of all great voice recognition systems is their ability to go the extra mile for the caller. We’ve talked before about the factors that make a great voice recognition system, but it all comes down to the company’s attention to detail. Customization is what’s going to set your voice system apart from others.