The Voicemail problem

Voicemails or answering machines started in the 70s and a lot of people still use them these days.  Its purpose remained the same – it is to let a machine answer incoming calls when the recipient cannot answer it or in some cases, does not want to answer it. This helps screen unwanted calls from telemarketers or “robocalls” (pre-recorded messages).

However, this poses a problem if you are doing quantitative research using phone surveys or interactive voice response (IVR) campaigns. When your pre-recorded calls are picked up by an answering machine, you end up wasting resources – time, and money.

So companies started developing a solution around this and introduced a voicemail detection system. 

What is Voicemail Detection?

Voicemail Detection, also known as Answering Machine Detection (AMD), is a tool that helps detect whether a call is being answered by a human or a voicemail system. This is important because it allows you to optimize your campaigns on the engageSPARK platform and avoid wasting resources on unproductive calls. 

How does it work?

Voicemail Detection works by analyzing the audio patterns of the call to determine whether it is being answered by a human or a voicemail system. The system uses various techniques to detect the presence of a voicemail system, such as analyzing the length of the message, detecting background noise, or checking for specific tones.

Audio Signal Analysis
When a call comes in, the voicemail detection system starts analyzing the audio signal in real time. It looks for specific characteristics and patterns that are typically associated with voicemail systems.

Silence Duration
One of the key factors examined is the duration of silence in the call. Voicemail systems often have predefined periods of silence before playing a greeting or recording a message. The voicemail detection algorithm measures the length of these silent intervals to determine if they align with typical voicemail behavior.

Audio Signatures
Voicemail greetings often have distinct audio signatures, such as specific tones or phrases commonly used in automated messages. The voicemail detection system compares the audio patterns of the call with known voicemail signatures stored in its database.

Background Noise
Another indicator is the presence of consistent background noise. Voicemail systems may have a constant noise or ambiance that distinguishes them from live calls. The voicemail detection algorithm analyzes the audio for such background sounds.

Overall, Voicemail Detection is a valuable feature that can help to optimize phone surveys and other IVR campaigns by detecting voicemail systems and avoiding wasting resources on unproductive calls. By using various techniques to analyze audio patterns, detect silence, and check for specific tones, Voicemail Detection can accurately determine whether a call has been answered by a human or a machine.

Voicemail Detection tools are not perfect

Using voicemail detection in your IVR campaigns can offer certain benefits, but there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Here are two cons of using voicemail detection:

Inaccurate Detection
Sometimes, the technology used to detect voicemails in IVR campaigns doesn’t always get it right. It might mistakenly think a call is going to voicemail when it’s not, or it could miss voicemails and think a person answered. These mistakes are called false positives and false negatives. False positives can make callers frustrated because they expected to talk to a real person, causing them to miss important messages or opportunities to engage. On the other hand, false negatives can create awkward moments if an automated message starts playing while the caller is talking. Inaccurate detection like this can make the caller’s experience worse and make the IVR campaign less effective.

Compatibility Issues
Voicemail detection technology relies on the analysis of audio signals and patterns. However, variations in voicemail systems, call quality, or network conditions can impact the accuracy of detection. Different voicemail setups or technical limitations may not be well-suited for accurate detection, resulting in increased false positives or false negatives. It’s important to consider the compatibility of the voicemail detection system with the specific infrastructure and environment in which the IVR campaign operates.

How do I enable it for my engageSPARK campaign?

You can have voicemail detection enabled on the confirmation page in your IVR or Drip campaigns

  1. Create a new or edit an already existing voice IVR or Drip Campaign
  2. Click on the confirm text to go to the confirmation page of your campaign
  3. Scroll down to the voicemail detection section and check the detect voicemails checkbox to enable voicemail for that particular campaign.