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.



NAB tests voiceprint recognition

CUSTOMERS enrolled in National Australia Bank's new voice biometrics system for phone banking may be able to use the same system to authenticate their internet banking activities.

NAB is the first local institution to give customers an opportunity to enrol in a voiceprint recognition system, dispensing with the need to remember PINs and passwords or provide personal information when calling the bank.

NAB direct channels speech program manager Sam Jackel said voiceprints could be used as a second-factor authentication method for internet banking transactions independently verified at present via an SMS message sent to the customer's mobile phone.

Users had to open the message to retrieve a single-use passcode and enter it into the onscreen session, he said.

But, Mr Jackel said, using voiceprints would enable a simple phone call to authenticate the user against the unique voiceprint record.


Australia: NAB selects VeCommerce

Telstra and VeCommerce (a Salmat company) announced that Telstra had sold a VeCommerce speech recognition solution to National Australia Bank (NAB).

The new solution is designed to improve NAB's telephone banking experience - ensuring customer enquiries are directed to the most appropriately skilled banker in the most efficient way.

Telstra led the sale and implementation of VeConnect as part of the bank's new customer service initiative. This initiative sees the launch of a single telephone number (136 NAB) to cover all of the bank's customer enquiries. Through the use of VeConnect, an advanced Natural Language Speech Recognition application from VeCommerce, callers to NAB will be routed to more than 150 destinations within the bank by simply stating their request.

NAB selects Telstra, VeCommerce to supply speech recognition solution

Telstra and VeCommerce announced today they have sold a VeCommerce speech recognition solution to the NAB, with the technology designed to improve the bank’s telephone banking experience and ensuring customer enquiries are directed to the most appropriately skilled banker in the most efficient way.

The company led the sale and implementation of VeConnect as part of the bank’s new customer service initiative, which sees the launch of a single telephone number (136 NAB) to cover all of the bank’s customer enquiries.

Speech recognition saves Aussie Post A$500,000

Australia Post has invested in a speech recognition system for incoming calls, reducing call costs by 80 percent and allowing Post staff to be transferred to more complex tasks.Implemented in June, the Inference Communications speech recognition system answers calls requesting information such as the location of post offices, postcodes of suburbs, trading hours and passport application enquiries.
Australia Post's NSW contact center receives 10,000 calls a day, according to the company, 1,500 of which are now answered by the speech recognition system.
The average call time with a human operator was 135 seconds, NSW Australia Post customer contact center manager Eddie Sayad said, while the average call time with the speech recognition system is now 89 seconds, with customers tending to ask fewer questions to the automated system. [click heading for more]