Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:

Check Out Our New Look

By Peter Leppik

VocaLabs has a new look!

We just rolled out a brand-new website with a cleaner, more streamlined look. Navigating is just as easy as before, but we've updated the graphics and added more features. We've also updated the graphic design of the PDF version of this newsletter, which is available at on our website under the "Resources" tab.

For our VocaLabs Professional customers, there's a link to log in on our home page, giving direct access to study archives and prototypes.

We've upgraded our infrastructure with a terabyte of redundant storage, new web servers, and more-powerful database servers.



We've upgraded our web, database, and storage servers too. We now have a redundant disk array with a terabyte of storage for archiving call recordings and survey data.

I welcome any comments or suggestions you may have about our new website.

Uses for a One Hour Assessment

By David Leppik

A VocaLabs One Hour Assessment is a smaller, faster version of a standard VocaLabs study, providing data and call recordings from typically 30 to 130 consumers in an hour. This isn't large enough for benchmarking or for detailed analysis, but it does give useful data about how a customer service operation may be improved.

When we introduced the One Hour Assessment we mainly saw it as a useful tool for testing prototype speech applications, since the rapid response gives our clients a quick way to get design guidance. Since then, our clients have come up with several creative ways to use the One Hour Assessment we didn't expect:

As A Sales Tool

For clients who use VocaLabs Professional, the cost of running a One Hour Assessment can be less than the cost of the plane ticket for a sales call. There's nothing quite like walking into a sales pitch with actual data from the prospect's own call center - data the prospect itself probably won't have - and tailored recommendations for improvements.

A Four Hour Assessment can provide data from hundreds of people in an afternoon.

For Testing Wizard-of-Oz Mockups

A Wizard-of-Oz mockup, where a human "wizard" simulates a speech recognition engine for usability testing, works well with our intensive One Hour Assessment process. In an intensive, one-hour testing session, one "wizard" can gather usability data from 30 or more callers, saving days of testing time and thousands of dollars in expenses. This takes maximum advantage of the Wizard-of-Oz method's flexibility since the design can be modified and retested immediately.

For Doing Big Studies Fast

We talk mainly about the One Hour Assessment, but we also offer two- and four-hour versions. A Four Hour Assessment typically has between 120 and 520 responses, which means it can be almost as thorough as a small standard study (standard studies typically have 500 or more responses). If you're under a tight deadline, and you need to complete a VocaLabs study quickly, the Four Hour Assessment might be the solution.

For Preliminary Testing

If you're planning to test a new application thoroughly in a VocaLabs study, it may make sense to first do a One Hour Assessment. Because the One Hour Assessment provides almost immediate feedback you'll be able to adjust the focus of the main study, making it significantly more effective.

Lessons Learned

By Rick Rappe

One of my favorite phrases is "You can't work in this business for long without learning...."

Because at VocaLabs we come into contact with so many different customer service operations, I've acquired a unique perspective on what makes good service and bad service. I've also learned a lot about how call center managers think about the service they're providing, and how decisions are made inside many companies.

I'm starting to distill the things I've learned into a series of short e-mails every week or two. You may have seen the first one already. Usually I'll have a link to an interesting article online, with a few sentences of my own observations.

If you'd like to get my e-mails, just sign up for our newsletter and you'll be registered to get both. Of course, if you ever decide you don't want to be on our newsletter list, just let me know and I'll take your name off.
I've learned a lot, and I hope I can share some helpful factoids with you.

Upcoming Events

By Jessica Whipple

In case you missed us at Spring SpeechTEK in February, we'll be at a number of upcoming events around the country:

  • Next week, Rick will be at the SOCAP conference in Orlando. Look for him walking the floor and in the sessions.
  • On May 10th, Rick will be speaking at the MTA conference here in Minneapolis at 2:45 about "Testing Customer Service for Ease-of-Use and Caller Satisfaction."
  • May 24th through 26th, we'll have a booth at the Speech World conference in Dallas. Our CEO, Peter Leppik, will be speaking on the 25th at 10 AM about "A Scientific Approach to VUI Testing."
  • Also at Speech World, we'll be running live demos of our One Hour Assessment in our booth. If you're interested in participating, please contact Rick at rrappe@vocalabs.com.


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