Voicemail Transcriptions Analysis

I have been receiving quite a few e-mails about my articles relating to voicemail transcription. My readers want me to point out the companies who provide such services are using human operators as well as machines to make this work.
For the record, the companies which provide such services will tell you flat out that humans are not involved. Perhaps a plausible explanation for the discrepancy is that some of the voicemails have human assistance and some do not.
Today, a reader told me about a patent that SpinVox has regarding human transcription in this field. I asked to have this patent forwarded as a quick Google search did not turn it up. I will keep you posted.

  • anon
    August 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    I can confirm that Spinvox uses human transcription agents – I know, I used to transcribe for them. They have a funky application called Tenzing which agents use to listen, rewind and transcribe the messages. It has predictive text which works well and includes such words as antidisestablishmentarism and supercalifragilisticxpalidoceaous as well as most swear words.
    Transcription centres are located in various countries including India, South Africa (where it is run by John and Maureen Groenewald the father and mother of Sean the VP of security and compliance for Spinvox) and Ireland. The Irish operation was a company called Celtic which Spinvox bought.
    For a lot of these agents, English is not their first or sometimes second language which explains why common English names are transcribed with errors but Inidan names are usually perfect.
    Spinvox do not have an original idea and they are worth a lot more on paper if they convince the world they have transcription software, they don’t and they are not worth as much as people believe. A third person listening to your personal voicemail might not bother most people, Spinvox can say it is all anonymous but the recipient’s name is shown in Tenzing as well as the sender’s number if available so it’s not as anonymous as they believe and certainly not as anonymous as if a computer did the work.
    Transcription agents can have their day brightened up by some of the voicemails, the ones where someone has been caught cheating are usually good for a laugh as are the ones from annoyed bosses asking where the hell their employee is.
    There have been messages where criminal intent is inferred or people have been leaving suicide messages but all Spinvox agents are required to ignore these and transcribe as normal. I think this is more to protect Spinvox’s claim about computer transcription than anything else.
    The reason for me telling you all this is simple. People have a right to know when what a company says and does are two different things. People use this service believing it is anonymous when in fact it is not. They also say that on the rare occassion a human is used (because the computerised system flags the message) that the agent does not comprehend the message content but simply types what they hear – rubbish, we would listen to the message enough times to know the content and meaning of all messages, we just ignored them, well most of them…

    August 22, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Hello Anon,
    Me too working with SpinVox may i know which company and which country u were working with.

  • Botros
    December 20, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Here’s a screenshot of Tenzing in action at a spinvox call center:

  • John Smith
    January 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Vonage and AT&T uses Nuances vm2text http://www.nuance.com/vm2text/ for conversion of speech to text. However Nuance gets their voicemails manually transcribed from a bunch of agents located at a facility in Bangalore, India. Does Vonage and AT&T customers know about this? If not then this is a gross violation of privacy for the visual voicemail customers since every time they leave a voicemail its going to be heard by call center agents in India and this could cause a severe breach of private information because any sensitive information like bank account number, phone number, etc could be accessed by them. I feel Vonage and AT&T should keep their customers informed that they are sending the messages to India to get them transcribed. Now with the buyout of Spinvox the scope for abuse has increased a lot. See this link for the place where these messages are transcribed http://www.focusvmt.com

  • San
    March 3, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Hey Anon,
    I also worked with Spinvox back in 2007. Could you tell me for which company you use to work and where. I really miss Tenzing and the way we use to work. It was real fun working in that application. Actually we had a chance to interact with Irish counterparts in person when we were in production. So would please get back ASAP.

  • EXM_Azeron
    July 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I used to work with Spinvox as well and I would actually love to get a copy of Tenzing for educational purposes. I am current doing transcription and I can’t seem to make the other people understand how much easier Tenzing makes things. I would love to download it and see if I can perhaps alter it to incorporate into my work since everything is online anyway. Maybe I could link to server but obviously I would need to have Tenzing. Any thoughts?

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