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ScanSoft Introduces SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities
[April 29, 2004]

ScanSoft Introduces SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities

PEABODY, Mass. --(Business Wire)-- April 29, 2004 --

Standards-Based, Packaged Application Offering Addresses Key Customer Service Issues for Utility Companies

ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT), today introduced SpeechPAK(TM) 1.0 for Utilities, its latest vertically-focused suite of packaged speech application offerings. The SpeechWorks(R) Division of ScanSoft will showcase its latest SpeechPAK offering in Booth #723 at the CIS Utility Conference being held at the Miami Beach Convention Center from May 4-7, 2004.

Enterprise customers are placing greater importance on speech applications that can be developed quickly using proven, successful user interface (UI) design concepts already deployed in their specific industry. SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities combines SpeechWorks' industry-leading speech technology and best practices in UI design to help utility companies rapidly deploy speech applications that support their customer self-service initiatives. SpeechPAKs accelerate R.O.I. gains by delivering a fast, high-quality deployment on a variety of VoiceXML 2.0 platforms from industry leaders such as Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Edify, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Intervoice, Nortel Networks, VoiceGenie Technologies and West Interactive.

Current Customer Service Offerings Fall Short


Deregulation of the utility industry created competition among service providers and increased pressure to reduce costs and provide better service to customers, many of whom now have alternatives when choosing energy, water, cable and local phone service providers in their areas. With current customer satisfaction levels in the low-to-medium range according to industry data, utilities are eager to enhance customer service and deliver overall cost savings.

These issues present themselves against a precedent of call center staffing challenges arising from high agent costs and annual attrition rates of twenty percent according to data collected through SpeechWorks' S.T.E.P(TM) (Speech Technology Evaluation Process) program. Additionally, energy outages caused by seasonal and unpredictable weather patterns result in Herculean call volume spikes and erratic calling patterns that are challenging for utilities to manage. While historically, storm related call spikes have been answered via specialized outsourcing relationships to meet regulatory mandates - cost pressures are forcing utilities to place a renewed emphasis on telephone automation as a potential solution. Moreover, current automation rates remain stagnant, in part due to touch-tone's inability to automate the alphanumeric input required to start and stop service and to collect significant customer information.

Utility Industry Application Expertise

Leveraging four years of analysis from best practices in utility customer service, the SpeechWorks Division worked with its partners to identify the most desirable speech applications for the utility industry based on engagements with close to twenty utility customers including Pacific Gas & Electric, American Electric Power, TXU, Alliant Energy, Constellation Energy, Pennsylvania Power & Light, Beaufort - Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, SCANA, Philadelphia Suburban Water Utility and Irish Electricity Board. The resulting individual SpeechPAKs represent the most beneficial applications that any utility can use to improve automation of critical utility service functions:

-- Caller Identification SpeechPAK: Designed as the front-end of an IVR (Integrated Voice Response) system, this application collects customer information such as phone number, account number and account address to determine who is calling and present the caller with choices of available services. This application can be expanded to include real-time emergency information and service outage announcements.

-- Account Information SpeechPAK: Provides customers with real-time account balance information and recent transactions including processed payments, payment amount, date and account credits.

-- Bill Payment SpeechPAK: Customers can make payments from checking or credit card account, call to confirm a payment or arrange to make a payment in the future.

-- Disconnect Service SpeechPAK: Allows callers to de-activate service and request a final bill.

-- Meter Reading SpeechPAK: Callers can register electric meter usage or schedule an appointment for a service visit.

-- Outages SpeechPAK: Allows callers to report a new outage in their area as well as check on the status of an existing outage.

"The utility industry is one of the most active markets for speech applications in North America today," said Steve Chambers, president of SpeechWorks, a division of ScanSoft. "Through our experience working with close to twenty utility customers, we've pinpointed the most repeatable speech applications for customer self-service. We've packaged that expertise so that utilities can be assured that their speech solution will result in a positive, reliable and consistent customer interaction."

SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities: Features & Components

SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities bundle pre-packaged application components that are essential to successfully delivering high quality speech transactions for utility companies. Each SpeechPAK contains the following components:

-- Built-in User Interface Design - design templates that deliver a high quality self-service caller experience for customers and can be branded and expanded to individual customer needs

-- VoiceXML Call Flow - customizable JAVA-based call flow that can execute on industry-leading VoiceXML 2.0 platforms

-- Data Object Models - data definitions that drive the call flow and can be plugged into customer business systems and databases

-- OpenSpeech(TM) DialogModules and Grammars - SpeechWorks' reusable dialog components have been configured and optimized for utility interactions, including specialized menus for utilities

-- SpeechPAK Voice Kit - The voice suite includes professionally recorded voice prompts and Speechify(R) text-to-speech voices that are seamlessly blended and optimized for the application.

Each SpeechPAK also incorporates the standards-optimized, award-winning OpenSpeech Recognizer speech recognition engine, OpenSpeech DialogModules software - patented VoiceXML-based objects that enable the rapid development of quality speech services - and the Speechify text-to-speech engine for a natural sounding and accurate delivery of dynamic text in an audio format. SpeechPAKs are completely standards-based and are available for use on a variety of industry-leading VoiceXML 2.0 platforms.

To extend and customize SpeechPAKs, customers can engage SpeechWorks' Professional Services organization for advanced branding and customized user interface design, application integration, tuning, and creation of complementary applications.

Pricing and Availability

SpeechPAK 1.0 for Utilities will be available through SpeechWorks Professional Services organization in Q3 2004. For pricing, contact your local SpeechWorks Sales representative.

About SpeechWorks(R) Solutions from ScanSoft

SpeechWorks(R) Solutions from ScanSoft comprise network and embedded speech solutions, including natural language speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS) and speaker verification solutions, as well as auto-attendant, directory assistance, turnkey vertical industry applications and other speech components. SpeechWorks solutions from ScanSoft help organizations redefine the way they exchange vital information with customers and employees over the telephone, and are used within automotive and embedded applications, including navigation systems, computer games, mobile devices, talking dictionaries, ATMs, applications for the visually impaired, and consumer electronic devices. For information, please visit http://www.scansoft.com/speech.

About ScanSoft, Inc.

ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT) is a leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions that are used to automate a wide range of manual processes - saving time, increasing worker productivity and improving customer service. For more information regarding ScanSoft products and technologies, please visit www.ScanSoft.com.

ScanSoft and the ScanSoft logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of ScanSoft, Inc. in the United States and other countries. SpeechWorks, Speechify, OpenSpeech and SpeechPAK are trademarks or registered trademarks of SpeechWorks International, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other company name or product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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