Software analyzes language ability of employees

Nexidia technology analyzes pronunciation and fluency of spoken language

A product released by Nexidia last week assesses the spoken language skills of call center employees, helping businesses make sure customers can understand customer service representatives, particularly those based outside the United States.

Nexidia specializes in phonetic-based technology for audio and video search that is used for e-discovery in the legal market, in healthcare, financial services, insurance and other industries.

On Tuesday, the vendor announced availability of Nexidia Language Assessor, which automates the testing of a person's fluency and pronunciation, and is designed for recruitment of call center representatives and training of existing ones.

The automated tool analyzes recordings of call center applicants reading scripted paragraphs, and measures them based on pronunciation, fluency and speed. Applicants who say "mm" or "ah" often or whose readings simply don't match the script might not be quite fluent, says Chris Jeffs, Nexidia's vice president of product management. Employers may also be concerned about the speed of speech.

"Too fast tends to be bad because it's difficult to comprehend," Jeffs says. "Too slow is concerning to call centers because if you have a very slow call center representative you'll have very slow calls that tend to be more costly."

The scripts applicants must read include common language and words and phrases that might be tough for them based on their native languages.

A recent survey found that two-thirds of customers will consider switching to a different vendor when they have a bad call center experience. Customers are often left unsatisfied by offshore call center representatives, the survey found. Call center employees who speak clearly resolve customer problems 88% of the time, while those with poor communication skills resolve problems only 45% of the time.

"It's well understood that language barriers have a direct impact on customer experience,"Jeffs says.

Pricing for Nexidia's Language Assessor was unavailable. The software is available in 33 languages and variations of languages, including North American English, U.K. English, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

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