Five9, Inc., a leading provider of the intelligent cloud contact center, announced it is adding a new capability to help businesses reimagine their self-service experiences using life-like conversational AI synthesized from human voices.
“In our experience, the more life-like an IVA can sound, the better the reception it will receive from the customer who is speaking with it”
The new capability, Five9 Virtual Voiceover, will be available to Five9 Inference Studio 7 users at no additional cost. Studio 7 is currently in controlled availability and will be generally available in early 2022.
By providing access to high-fidelity synthetic voices that are virtually indistinguishable from human voices, Five9 Virtual Voiceover significantly reduces the time and expense of producing custom voice overs for static self-service scripts in the contact center. Examples include: Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) greetings, conversational prompts, and menu options.
Impeccable voice overs on-demand
Traditionally, contact centers have had two options for creating self-service voice prompts. They can use Text-to-Speech (TTS) engines from providers like Google and Amazon. Or businesses that want a custom, “branded” voice can source voice talent, record each prompt in a studio and upload the recording to their contact center platform. Standard rates for IVR voice over talent can range from $50-$200 an hour, according to the Global Voice Acting Academy. The editing and production process adds even more cost – and time – to custom voice over projects.
Now, with Five9 Virtual Voiceover in Studio 7, users can access a menu of synthetic voices, select one that best represents their brand, and type their prompts into an IVA task flow. The audio stream is then rendered in real-time, which significantly reduces the cost of creating custom voice overs. It allows businesses to make changes to their IVA scripts on the fly, as business needs change.
To make this capability possible, Five9 has extended the growing list of conversational AI engines supported by Studio and added its first Virtual Voiceover partner, WellSaid Labs, a Seattle-based synthetic media company born out of the AIlen Institute for AI incubator. WellSaid Labs has consistently researched and developed tremendous breakthroughs in the quality of text-to-speech systems, and research has shown that the quality of WellSaid’s TTS is almost indistinguishable from the voices of live actors.
The partnership will also allow Five9 customers to create bespoke voice avatars based on their existing voice talent, such as a trusted company spokesperson. With the talent’s permission and a few hours of recording, WellSaid can create the custom avatar and provide guidance on scripting, recording, and audio specs to ensure the highest quality results.
“In our experience, the more life-like an IVA can sound, the better the reception it will receive from the customer who is speaking with it,” said Callan Schebella, EVP, Product Management, Five9. “We’re continually looking for the latest and greatest technologies to enhance the Studio platform, and we are excited to partner with WellSaid to bring this new innovation to our customers.”
Custom voice avatars for the digital workforce
Five9 used WellSaid’s technology to create its own custom voice avatar, enlisting the expertise of Alex Baratta, Ph.D., senior lecturer in language, linguistics and communication at the University of Manchester, and film and television voice coach Liam French Robinson. Baratta and Robinson selected a voice actor based on key vocal traits that the experts determined to be well-suited for customer service. Then they coached the actor to amplify those traits during the process of recording his voice for the Five9 avatar.
“We look at key elements such as pitch, volume, speed, and intonation,” Baratta said. “And within those categories, there are micro-level details that contribute to whether a voice is perceived as warm, engaging, trustworthy, or any other judgements made regarding how we perceive people based on their vocal quality.”
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The custom Five9 voice avatar will be available in Studio 7, alongside WellSaid’s 25 standard voice avatars. The custom avatar will also serve as the voice of Five9 New Hire, an IVA designed to help Five9 customers and prospects learn about deploying IVAs in the contact center to create a digital workforce. Implementing a digital workforce that can automate customer engagement is increasingly important as businesses deal with worker shortages and increased service demand, both of which are expected to impact businesses during this holiday season.
With enhancements like Five9 Virtual Voiceover, Five9 is helping businesses continue to innovate their voice experience alongside digital channels. Five9 offers customers a full omni-channel experience, including SMS, e-mail, chat, IVA, and a robust global voice service built with 20 years industry experience. Though digital channels are often perceived as the cornerstone of CX transformation, Five9 research shows that, in many cases, voice is still the preferred channel for customer service. That’s why Five9 is focused on applying the same AI, automation, and analytics to the voice channel that digital channels have enjoyed for years. These technologies unlock new possibilities for creating an AI-powered digital workforce that delivers exceptional CX – no matter the channel.