Your call may be monitored

GCN Insider | Call centers may slice, dice and examine your call to reveal a lot more than you ever imagined.

We all know what call centers are. You call a company to get information about their product, and you're routed to a room full of people wearing telephone headsets. You'll almost certainly hear a recorded voice telling you that your call may be monitored. You may even oversee or contract out a call center operation of your own.

What you probably don't know is that your call may also be sliced, diced and examined to ultimately reveal a lot more than you ever imagined.

Eyal Rudnik, director of product marketing at Nice Systems, an Israel-based call-center solution provider, said call centers not only have the ability to record and route calls but also can employ analytic software to measure callers' emotional changes and analyze text transcripts.

'We have the ability to take a baseline reading of your emotional state at the beginning of the call and to see if there is any deviation from that baseline,' he said. 'For instance, I can ask the system to tag for me all calls in which the caller was irate. Or you can look for all the calls in which the customer expressed satisfaction.'

The system doesn't just examine tone of voice. 'We examine 20 different voice variables in order to determine the deviation from the base line,' Rudnik said. 'Energy of the voice, cadence, pace, changes in pace ' it's a very sophisticated algorithm.'

The system also offers similarly sophisticated speech-recognition software that can make transcripts of a caller's words with 85 percent to 95 percent accuracy, he said.

The information thus gleaned from calls can certainly be helpful for businesses. But we wonder if perhaps a different set of rules should apply when and if the technology is employed by government agencies. Are the same tools for analyzing emotions and mining e-mail text being applied to citizens' communications with the White House and Congress? Should there be more warning than the simple advisory that your call might be monitored?

We'll be taking a more detailed look at those questions in a feature story in our Sept. 10 issue on call center technology.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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