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Industry Research : ASIC Plan for AI Snoops on Insurance Calls Strains Hearing


Australia's financial watchdog might be dreaming of the day when call centre surveillance software automatically catches crooked insurance sales staff.

But there's still a way to go before AI-powered voice analytics can decipher the verbage that bubbles out of a sales boiler room.

That's the reality check bowled up to regulators and industry rapidly spitballing prototypes of new regtech solutions as banks, insurers and auditors all trying to find ways to automatically detect bad behaviour without creating a profit sapping compliance cost sinkhole in the process.

At a closely watched regtech forum late last month, ASIC outlined its findings from a trial of voice analytics software applied to a sample of life insurance sales calls.

With a freshly sharpened set of teeth, the watchdog says it sees "great potential" in using voice analytics to automatically identify instances of potential misconduct in life insurance sales calls - but there's a catch.

The surveillance smarts will only really be effective if insurers start to record calls at higher quality.

ASIC had been hoping to determine whether AI could "replicate what it took several ASIC staff many months to do", according to Barbara Buettner, senior manager for insurers in ASIC’s financial services group.

That is, could voice analytics (and voice-to-text) be used to recognise indicators of poor sales practice in life insurance calls?

The answer, according to Buettner, is a "qualified yes".

"The tools were able to replicate a lot of what a team of people did for ASIC, but they were definitely better at detecting some examples of misconduct than others," she said.

Call quality hits trial

One of the main issues encountered by ASIC and its technology partners in the trials - Daisee, Deloitte and Call Journey - was the quality of calls generally made it hard for the AI, and even human overseers, to understand the content.

"The challenges we encountered did affect the results of the trial - there's no other way of saying that," Buettner said.

"Call quality did affect transcription quality, and it affected the ability to do some word searches and more complex searches.

"Sample size was also an issue. I think, in an ideal world, you'd have not hundreds but thousands or tens of thousands of hours [of calls] to work with this technology and to train it.

"Because of the call quality issues, we were down to the low hundreds of good [quality] calls, and that affected our ability to to use voice signals, which was quite an important component of the trial."

ASIC had been hoping to use AI to analyse calls for sentiment or vulnerability. This may be identifiable by listening for pitch changes, silence, overtalk, hesitation, response length and other variables.

But the call quality in general wasn’t high enough to run "more sophisticated voice signal analysis".

"Our sample sizes probably held us back to really explore that, and so I think on this one, we probably need to do a little bit more work," Buettner said.

Some insurers also recorded calls for quality assurance purposes in mono. That required additional technology to try and separate the speakers on the call

"When you're measuring sentiment, if you have a mono recording, you're actually measuring how happy the agent is - and when have you ever heard an unhappy agent trying to sell?" said Mia Lander, a partner in Deloitte’s audit and assurance, governance, regulation and conduct advisory.

"So that will impact on your results."

Software compensation only goes so far

All three tech companies in the ASIC trial encountered varying problems with call quality.

"One of the things that we found most challenging about this, of course, like my colleagues, was the recording quality," Lander said.

"This is not new. We strike this all the time.

"When you're looking at remediation programs, where you're going back through maybe up to 10 years worth of call recordings, those call recordings would not have been made in an optimal environment."

All firms said they were able to "compensate" for those issues by using various algorithms and tools to clean up the audio or otherwise determine context in a way that reduced the number of false positives.

"Looking at the quality of recordings … there's a vast amount of variability in the data, and in fact, only 30 percent of the calls were of excellent or very good quality," Daisee CEO Richard Kimber said.

"Despite that, we were still able to get a significant amount of insight and we were able to find all the issues that [ASIC wanted to recognise].

"But going forward, this is no longer going to be the case. Every company in the room should have a world-class call recording system."

One of the issues is that current call recording systems were not designed with voice analytics in mind.

"If there's CIOs in the room who represent their particular organizations, most of the time that people want to record a conversation, it's because they have to, and they've got to store it, compress it, and it's got to be all squeezed," Call Journey CEO Paul Humphrey said.

"Most people don't record a call because they need to analyse it so it's got to be at decent levels of quality.

"In our experience, we still see a number of customers - quite probably a high propensity of people - with mono recordings, so we've had to work hard at our technology to engineer the capability to manage mono recordings and separate the two callers.

"But again, most of our customers will start adopting a change in the way they record their calls, just so that they can get much greater insights, and we are seeing that quite commonly now."

Humphrey continued: "Conversation analytics can vastly improve with one simple industry practice, and that's high quality recordings.

"Many of our customers are changing their recording capability now to be able to do this, and you can get very good accurate outputs from that perspective to cover those things under the misconduct rules.

"We do think that all participants in the industry should change their recording capabilities. That's just going to make it easier."

The technology firms also used software to try to minimise background noise in recorded calls.

"I've been in a call centre," Lander said.

"Something that you cannot control is customer end noise. So in this data set, we had customers calling from outside, we had customers calling with screaming kids, and those things will impact on the recording quality and therefore the analytics quality that you have.

"If you're looking at trying to make something that's more accurate, then you need to think about all of those things."

ASIC remains positive

Buettner acknowledged that "discrepancies" in call quality meant that voice analytics "might take a little while ... to be realistic" for production use.

However, she was confident that the challenges could be overcome.

"For ASIC, I think we could really scale up surveillances and investigations, listening to thousands rather than painstakingly listening to hundreds of calls," she said.

"We will continue to explore how this fits into our regulatory toolkit. And people like me who run a stakeholder team would be very pleased if we don't have to spend eight months with 10 people listening in to call recordings."

Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

About ASIC:
Company LogoThe Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is an independent Australian government body that acts as Australia's corporate regulator. ASIC's role is to enforce and regulate company and financial services laws to protect Australian consumers, investors and creditors. ASIC administers a range of legislation (or relevant parts of Acts), as well as relevant regulations made under it:
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Today's Tip of the Day - Quality Of Service

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2021 Buyers Guide Speech Technology


Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

Call Tracking Metrics

Execute automated actions based on words spoken by your customer.

Our intelligent word detection and transcription tools make it easier for you to decipher the content of your customer conversations and automate action based on those insights.

Transform the audio of your calls into speaker-organized scripts so you can easily search your call log for specific words from a conversation, or automatically detect when words of intent are spoken by your customer.

Listen in on and highlight common patterns in order to execute triggers to initiate a new action or workflow, such as emailing a manager if the word “cancel” is spoken on a call. You can also set up to automatically redact content from a transcript, such as sensitive health information transmitted on a call.


Daisee builds technology that empowers people to solve problems by making interactions simple and smart so they can have a more significant impact, be more productive and be better at what they do. We believe incremental improvements carry huge potency and provide exponentially greater change for the better.

Genesys customers can now automate risk and quality management using Daisee’s speech and sentiment analytics and remediation workflow software. Daisee helps improve customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, identify missed commercial opportunities & training requirements as well as provide valuable insights back to the business directly from the frontline – the true voice-of-...
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Advanced speech recognition and natural language expertise that routes callers by simply asking ‘how can I help you?’. It allows customers to use their own words to ask for what they want and steers them to the right place.

Menus are eliminated altogether and contact centres can use a single inbound telephone number.

MattsenKumar LLC

SmartSpeech – The Best In Class Speech Analytics Software

An all-inclusive speech analytics application that enables you to visualize your audio using state-of-the-art speech recognition, transcription, and text analytics technologies.


InTone Suite - Emotion Detection via Voice Analysis
InTone™ is a voice analysis tool geared to detect genuine emotional and cognitive reactions regardless of the speaker’s language or chosen intonation.
It integrates into existing contact center environments and provides realtime indications of both client and agent emotional reactions throughout all ongoing calls. This unique set of indications assists managers and call center representatives to truly understand the client, improve call center performance, easily detect angry calls, elevate training efficiency and provide a tailored customer experience in every single call.

Nemesysco's contact center technology is also available in API and SDK forms.
Please visit our website for information about our product portfolio.

Voci Technologies Incorporated

V-Blaze Speech to Text
Our GPU-accelerated, AI-based technology enables you to deliver greater insights to the contact center by transcribing audio into analyzable text.

- Transcribe large volumes of recorded audio quickly
- Integrate transcripts with your analytics or business intelligence platform
- Reduce your hardware footprint and minimize total cost of ownership


Voxjar is your one-stop-shop for driving better phone calls with your customers. We're a modern Conversation Analytics and Call Coaching Platform.

- Custom Charts and Dashboards give you the freedom to analyze calls from the highest level down to the details of each conversation.

- AI-Powered Speech Analytics transcribes, searches, and analyzes your reps' phone conversations, at scale.

- Quality Assurance and Call Coaching tools let you evaluate and improve agent performance with a human touch.

- Long term recording storage for historical analysis

All of these together provide the holistic, easy-to-use software that you need to manage a modern call team and create better con...
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