40% of callers avoid speech systems wherever possible


Many consumers avoid using speech automated systems when calling customer call centres and prefer to use the Internet as their first port of call. In fact, one-third of consumers surveyed struggle to see any benefits to using an automated contact centre service, representing a rise on last year’s figures.

Most consumers also believe companies only use automated services in their contact centres to save money. Furthermore, two in five people claim they are unhappy with the automated systems’ ability to deal with queries.

These are some of the highlights of the 2009 Alignment Index for Speech Self-Service report releasedby Dimension Data in conjunction with Cisco, and Microsoft subsidiary, Tellme Networks Inc.

The report, which compares and measures consumer, vendor and enterprise perceptions of speech systems, reveals that of 2,000 consumers polled across six countries* some 40% - up from 36% in 2008 - said they avoid using speech systems “whenever possible”, while 50% said they use the Internet as their first choice for interacting with a business or organisation.

And with only 25% of consumers saying they would be happy to use speech solutions again, organisations are not winning their hearts and minds.


When using automated systems, over a third of consumers that were polled are most frustrated when a human agent requests they repeat themselves after they’ve already provided information to the automated system. And 19% of consumers say that they are most annoyed when the system doesn’t recognise what they’ve said.

On the other hand, companies that have deployed speech recognition are fairly optimistic about the long-term viability of such systems for customer service. They believe the path to improving customer satisfaction with speech recognition lies in making it easier for consumers to use the systems.

Looking at consumer behaviours, the report statistics indicate that attitudes toward customer service among the younger age groups are changing. Over half of consumers between the ages of 16 and 34 use an online channel for their customer service needs, and this will continue to place more pressure on companies to design customer service solutions that provide choice, accuracy and speed.



Verizon Business Extends Automated Speech Recognition Services to Internet Protocol Networks


To meet the needs of the growing number of businesses that are converting their networks to an Internet protocol infrastructure, Verizon Business is now offering its speech services in an IP-enabled version.

The new capability, announced Tuesday (Aug. 25), allows customers to run their speech services on the company's Hosted IP Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform, as an alternative or in addition to its traditional Hosted IVR platform.

The services help callers conduct simple self-service inquiries and transactions over the phone. For example, a caller could use a speech application to check an account balance, find a store location, order literature, update an appointment, or inquire about an insurance claim -- all without having to wait on hold to speak to a customer service agent.



Mobile Speech Applications Market Set To Triple By 2014

Speech recognition software is expected to increase considerably in the next 5 years as today’s world becomes even more fast-paced.

As part of their latest report, independent data analyst Datamonitor has forecasted that the global market for advanced speech recognition (ASR) technology in mobile devices is set to triple to $99.6 million by 2014 from the current $32.7 million and that ASR in-vehicle telematics will also grow to $208.2 million from the current $64.3 million.

Mobile speech applications allow users to voice-control the operation of a device. Speech applications are also widely made use of in voice-based search for voice-dialing and voice input, where a user can vocally upload data. Also, the increasing trend towards restrictions placed on operating mobile devices while driving is expected to contribute to a growth in the speech recognition software market.

Globally, several nations, including 15 states in the U.S., have come forward to enact legislation that restricts the use of handsets while operating vehicles. Most of these legislations permit the use of hands free devices as an alternative and telecom carriers have been promoting command and control and SMS based services to combat theses restrictions.

In-Vehicle Telematics also make use of ASR and text-to-speech technologies, commonly to input addresses, manage music playlists, read out addresses and more. With an increasing number of devices using network based ASRs, recognition rates have also improved.  In addition to this, the popularity of application stores have allowed feasible options to emerge for smaller operators who can now reach out to the market and provide innovative solutions.

American adds customer-recognition technology

American Airlines says customers who call for flight information will get it faster because of new speech-recognition technology.
The technology is designed to save the airline money by reducing the need for employees to handle customer calls.
American said Thursday that the "Remember Me" system will recognize phone numbers and greet customers by name if they've signed up under American's frequent-flier program, AAdvantage. They can list up to three phone numbers from which they'll call the airline.
If the customer is booked on a flight that day, the system will offer gate and flight information without prompting, the airline said.
The technology was provided by Tellme, a company that Microsoft Corp. bought last year. [click heading for more]

Voice Recognition Software Helps Florida Caseworkers Work Faster

A solution is emerging to enable reporting efficiency. Since July 2008 the department has been deploying voice recognition technology, designed to let fieldworkers dictate their notes while in the field. Software converts the dictation into typed copy, letting investigators spend more time on the road. Once back in the office, the fieldworker plugs the dictation device into a PC and gets a printed report. [click heading for more]

North American Directory Assistance Is "Best of the Best."

Over the past eighteen months, user-paid directory assistance (DA) providers performed at levels that are almost as high as statistically possible. This makes the United States' DA service "the best of the best."

There are three components that drive the accuracy of DA: the automated front-end systems, the operators and the databases. According to the Fall, 2008 National Directory Assistance Performance IndexSM, an independent analysis published semi-annually by The Paisley Group, Ltd. (PGL), automated systems are performing at 98.7% accuracy, operators at 99.0% accuracy and databases at 95.7% accuracy. This results in 94.3% of all calls being handled accurately. The margin of error is +/- 2.6%. 
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Eric – New Hollywood Star

IVO Software has presented Eric – the latest English-speaking male voice based on IVONA – text-to-speech technology regarded as one of the best in the world.  Eric comes from Hollywood and experts describe his way of speaking as “CNN style”.  Listening to Eric you get the impression that this is a person from the West Coast of the US talking to you. This is no accident as IVONA is speaking with the voice of an artist heard in Hollywood blockbusters and on CNN. To find out what Eric can say visit www.ivona.com. Just select his voice and then enter any text in the appropriate box for Eric to read it out. The service allows you to send your friends interesting pieces of information read out by Eric or to post them on a blog. 

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You can say "Hasta la vista" to text messaging behind the wheel thanks to a new law recently laid down by the Governator.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has terminated a loophole in California's vehicle code that banned drivers from talking on cell phones without a hands-free device but let them to communicate via text messages. The new law that takes effect on January 1, 2009 makes it illegal to drive and text at the same time. Fines start at $20 per offense. The law was partially prompted by the tragic crash of a Los Angeles commuter train in September after investigators revealed the engineer may have been distracted by text messaging before impact. California now becomes the largest state to pass such a ban on text messaging for drivers. Other states are expected to follow with similar laws. [click heading for more]