Better voice recognition improving call centre service

Customers must have the option of speaking to a live operator, says Genesys senior vice-president

Self-service contact centres that use voice recognition are improving as a result of new industry standards and a better understanding of what both the client and the end-user want.

So says James Brooks, senior vice-president of Asia Pacific and China field operations for Genesys, the Alcatel subsidiary that has emerged as a leading player in the contact-centre market.

Five years ago, the products on offer were immature and too proprietary, says Brooks. But more recent solutions, based on VXML-based industry standards, give customers more choice and so will invigorate the market.

Telecom agrees. “When we first looked at voice recognition, in 2000, it wasn’t ready,” says Hamish Stewart, Telecom’s manager, strategy and development. We couldn’t find one end-to-end supplier, and the components from different suppliers didn’t fit well together.

Forcing customers to self-service doesn’t work, says Stewart. They must have the option of speaking to a live operator.

But broadband has increased the number of options available and so encouraged speech-driven self-service, as button-pressing has become less practical, says Stewart. Voice recognition broadens the number of choices that can be handled — psychologists say users can only handle four layers of menus with four choices.

Since intensive use of voice recognition started, in September, growing customer confidence has resulted in a 10% reduction in customers “zeroing out” — giving up on interactive voice response and dialling zero to get a “real person”, says Stewart.

The volume of transferred calls — involving customers ending up in the wrong department — has also been cut, says Stewart. But he couldn’t quantify this improvement.

Standard interfaces within the system mean clients can get a basic call-management framework from Genesys and can then choose the speech recognition engine that best meets their needs, says Brooks.

Bell travelled to Sydney courtesy of Genesys.

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