Going Backwards - custom speech applications can create more problems than they solve...

Here's some opinion from the Fluency blog. Really, it's nothing new - the simple message is that speech systems do not replace human beings, they complement them. The skill in deploying speech systems is in knowing how to achieve and optimise this balance. For your self-service systems to work with you, not against you. (This is of course where Vicorp has particular expertise, but then I would say that.)

While custom-built speech applications allow companies to tailor the solutions to their exact requirements, they also provide unlimited scope to steer customers away from real, human interaction – the primary reason many people choose to try their luck at getting through to phone-based contact centers, rather than defer to Web FAQs and email!

To put too many hurdles between the caller and the agent is to tamper precariously with customer relations. This has become such a problem already that US consumer champion Paul English’s ‘Gethuman’ online database takes great pleasure in instructing customers how to bypass particular companies’ automation systems so they can get to speak to a live agent!

Speech recognition technology should be harnessed strategically and selectively, to facilitate better agent response, rather than replace it. Applied thoughtfully, it can transform the entire operation, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty, and even driving up revenues as a proportion of call time is subtly refocused on upselling.