The most demanding of all professions chooses Threads to improve their customer service
One of Threads’ early design goals was to be able to usefully transcribe phone calls, and, just as important, find them when needed. Given everybody’s dependence on searching all other forms of digital messages (emails, texts, social media, etc), it seemed to us a most natural requirement.
Unfortunately, speech recognition had got some bad press due to its application in situations that had never been properly thought out. Expecting an automated robot to impress customers and save staff costs was always a recipe for losing customers. As a gimmick, it had its fans, but as many were frustrated as wooed.
But this ignored the basic rather unnerving fact that machines are actually better at recognising words than humans. It is at understanding them at which the machine is currently less good.
So we began adding speech recognition to Threads as a way to find words and hence conversations. People are not great at remembering when they said something but are much better at remembering what they say.
But we knew that recognising the words was only half the story. Modern business telephone calls can be complicated, with several people involved and with calls parked and re-directed. And even modern telephone systems don’t record calls very well. Just well enough for a human to understand.
So when we engineered our way around all those challenges, we ended up with something that didn’t just find calls, it was pretty damn good at transcribing them too. And having transcribed them, it allowed us to use AI to process them just like written text – we can find patterns and trends, analyse sentiment and produce summaries of calls so users could get straight down to the facts without wading through hours of speech.
And we also discovered that presenting a call transcription is as important and the transcription itself. So we got the user interface right for that too. Something designers often don’t consider.
The final vindication of all our engineering and human factors effort was when, after a 6 month trial (no pun intended) a firm of forward-looking solicitors signed up to Threads.
Read their story here.