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.



First Carrier-Deployed Voice-to-SMS Application Hits iPhone App Store

Promptu Systems Corporation today announced that the Italian version of its fully automated voice-to-text messaging application created for Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) is now available to Italian iPhone owners from Apple's App Store.

Like Promptu's forthcoming ShoutOUT, dettaSMS lets Italian speakers dictate their text messages in fluent, natural speech, instead of typing on the iPhone's touch-screen keypad. Transcribed SMS messages can be reviewed, edited and appended to before being sent.

"dettaSMS is the world's first carrier-deployed voice-to-text SMS iPhone application," said Giuseppe Staffaroni, Promptu's CEO. "To insure privacy, security, and scalability, message transcription is completely automatic -- no human is involved."

dettaSMS is integrated with Telecom Italia Mobile's billing system and built on Promptu's network speech recognition (NSR(TM)) architecture for speed, accuracy and scalability. Promptu's fully automated speech recognition delivers high accuracy, low latency and unparalleled security. User privacy is assured because the real-time voice signal is never processed manually.


Air France extends its use of Nuance speech recognition for telephone information services

Air France originally began using Nuance technology in October 2006 to provide English and French speaking customers with access to dial-up information services. The application has since been expanded to support Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese as well.

The airline has now further expanded the service to offer customers the ability to book, purchase and change tickets or obtain refunds from an Air France agent; access real-time flight information; obtain information about Air France coach services; check on required vaccinations; and monitor luggage in the event of an incident.

Vocalcom Spain Picks Loquendo for Natural Language

Speech technologies play an important role in the contact center for the ability to improve customer interactions and the overall experience for callers.

In a bid to improve their product portfolio, contact center solutions provider Vocalcom has partnered with Loquendo for their ASR and TTS offerings.
Loquendo (News - Alert) ASR speech recognition technology is capable of recognizing a large scale vocabulary of continuous speech, even in noisy environments, and can be used for automated directory services and voice portals.
With Loquendo TTS, developers are provided with a number of emotional and lifelike voices that can be uniquely developed to fit specific needs in a number of languages. 
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VoxWeb and Loquendo Bring Speech Technologies to Spain

In a bid to bring speech technologies to even more people and places in Spain, Loquendo and VoxWeb Soluciones de Voz have announced they worked together to create speech solutions for local councils in the area.

VoxWeb Soluciones de Voz, a Spanish speech solutions company made use of Loquendo Speech Recognition and Text to Speech solutions to develop speech applications particularly to complement Web portal services. [click heading for more]

Nuance Acquires Philips Speech Recognition Systems, Expands European Healthcare Business

Nuance today announced that it has acquired Philips Speech Recognition Systems (PSRS). With the combined resources of Nuance and PSRS, Nuance significantly enhances its ability to deliver innovative, speech-driven clinical documentation and communication solutions to healthcare organizations throughout Europe.
Through this transaction, Nuance expands upon its mission to transform the way healthcare organizations document patient care. In recent years Nuance has targetted the estimated $10 billion spent annually for medical transcription alone. The opportunity for automated documentation solutions is also significant in Europe, where an estimated $2 billion is spent each year for manually processing clinical information and where governments have made substantial investments to digitize healthcare systems, such as the $24 billion applied to the National Health Service National Programme for IT in England. [click heading for more]

Eckoh wins multi-million pound contract from global financial services company

Eckoh plc, the UK’s largest provider of hosted speech recognition services, has signed a three year multi-million pound contract with a global financial services company to provide an automated telephony self-service platform for handling customer enquiries across Europe.
The contract is forecast to start generating revenue by the fourth quarter of the current financial year, and to reach full run rate well in excess of £1 million per annum in the first half of the next financial year.
As stated in the preliminary results announcement on 4 August 2008, Eckoh have been working with BT to create a network which will allow calls to be delivered from all major European territories to Eckoh’s call processing platform in the UK. Through the agreement this client will be the first to utilise the new capability and it underlines Eckoh’s ability to now provide cost-effective hosting facilities on a pan-European basis to major global businesses. [click heading for more]

Voxeo Makes Multi-Tenant IVR Virtualization a Reality for OEM Partners

Voxeo Corporation today announced the availability of its proven IVR and SIP hosting infrastructure as a completely re-brandable, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering. Vendors can OEM the Voxeo solution to quickly and easily launch their own branded, standards-based IVR hosting services. [click heading for more]

Customers in Romania? Have Them Speak to 'Carmen'

There is now help available for Romanian-serving contact centres. ‘Her’ name is Carmen. ‘She’ is the first high quality synthetic Romanian-language voice and ‘works’ in IVONA Telecom TTS speech recognition application, developed and marketed by IVO Software, which is based in Poland. Carmen joins her ‘friends’, Jacek and Ewa who can talk to Polish-speaking callers, and who were the first members of the IVONA Telecom TTS ‘family’, along with Jennifer, who can converse with Americans . [click heading for more]