Speech Recognition Helps Contact Centre Productivity

Paul Scott, Line of Business Director – Customer Interactive Solutions at Dimension Data UK has told Comms Business Magazine he believes speech recognition systems are playing a key role in improving contact centre productivity.

“Speech self-service is becoming widely adopted. The 2007 Dimension Data Global Call Centre Benchmarking Report shows that globally 13.5% of all contact centres have installed speech recognition technology with a further 25% planning to install it.

A key reason behind this adoption is the many benefits a well designed Voice User Interface (VUI) delivers. Most importantly, this technology allows contact centres to automate many of their more straightforward and repetitive transactions without needing to add capacity through additional agents. It goes without saying that the value of this is can run into the thousands, if not millions, of pounds. Other important benefits include a reduction of the cost of interaction and improvement of contact centre processes and accuracy of call handling.

Speech recognition technology can also deliver benefits to contact centre agents. For example, it is ideally suited to automating high volume, routine transactions, and through this frees staff to deal with more complex and potentially valuable calls. This drives staff motivation and satisfaction, addressing two of the contact centre industry’s most pressing issues: staff absenteeism and attrition.

Speech self service only works, however, if it is designed to user-centric principles. For example, in the past, some touch-tone interactive voice response systems or older speech recognition systems failed because people do not respond to a robotic-sounding voice. To counter this, highly sophisticated, natural-sounding voice systems have been developed.

Speech technologies will not be adopted by customers if they are clumsy or difficult to navigate and do not solve queries quickly. Interacting with a virtual contact centre agent must be instinctively easy. To make sure that implementation is a success, organisations must understand the target audience, design the application to suit user needs, involve language and behaviour specialists in the design process and use the same language – including style, pitch, tone and vocabulary – that target customers use.”