Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Orange Confirms The Trend To IVR With Speech Recognition

In May 2006, Computing saw only a slow-moving trend towards the use of speech recognition technology. A few UK companies including Powergen, British Airways, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and Odeon were adopting such systems. The holiday firm First Choice joined this select band with a customer contact centre in Manchester, handling 600 calls a day, and dealing with the most common enquiries about balances owed on holidays, making payments and checking on ticket status.

At the time, a Gartner analyst Steve Cramoysan predicted steady, rather than spectacular, growth. He suggested, ‘One thing that may push things along faster is Google, which is talking about introducing voice search over mobile phones. If that happens, it will take this technology down a whole new high-profile track.’

Google is clearly putting major effort into this area but as yet they have not revealed plans. Nevertheless in advance of that, the advantages of using speech technology are being increasingly recognized and exploited by the front-runners. Mobile phone network operator Orange has announced that it will improve customer service with the implementation of a speech recognition system. The move is part of a £100m investment in customer services in the light of increasing criticism from consumer groups about poor service at the company. Orange added 1,000 call centre agents in the last year and will now upgrade its customer service systems by improving the underlying platforms that route incoming calls.

Given the poor reputation of the telecommunications companies for customer service, it may be expected that other telecoms will be following the Orange lead.

Customer Service From Telecommunications Companies

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