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Speech automation solutions can be an integral part of a contact center. By letting callers interact with the center using their most natural form of communication — their voice — speech automation enables the contact center to handle more calls with less agent interaction. By automating functions before connecting the caller to an agent and allowing callers to completely handle their own requests (such as account balance inquiries and placing a reorder), speech automation can make a very positive impact. Yet, because of the expense, perceived difficulty and overwhelming technology options, most contact centers have not implemented any speech solutions.

Traditional Speech Automation
Most common speech automation solutions are complicated. They involve premise-based hardware and software and require a very knowledgeable staff to implement and maintain them. In addition to the expense of managing the investment required in hardware, software and personnel, the ongoing licensing and maintenance costs can be considerable. Any decision to implement a premise-based speech automation solution requires a decisive return on investment (ROI) case. This lack of a clear-cut ROI prevents most contact centers from ever seriously considering speech solutions, which leaves only the largest and most complex centers to be the users of speech solutions.

Revolutionary Change – Hosted Speech Solutions
There is a new paradigm in speech solutions that changes the way all contact centers should think about implementing speech automation. Hosted speech solutions will now enable smaller centers to take advantage of the benefits of speech solutions and to allow the larger centers to complement their existing infrastructure to address seasonal peak volumes or special projects. The reasons for this are several. For one, the cost model is much more favorable. Hosted speech solutions require much less of an up-front cost as the contact center does not have to pay for equipment, licenses and staff, and ongoing costs are on a per minutes used basis. This changes speech automation solutions from being a capital expenditure to an operational expense.

Another reason is implementation. Because a hosted solution has the hardware, software and staff in place to manage the technology, the implementation project focuses on delivering the actual solution and not on hiring and training staff or managing servers and rack space. Scalability is another advantage for the hosted model. The “per minute of use” pricing model builds in the costs of adding additional ports, licenses and servers; and the new components are added seamlessly as they are needed based on capacity requirements. By removing up-front investment barriers, hosted speech solutions can be used by a great number of contact centers that may believe that they are out of reach.

About VoltDelta Hosted Solutions
VoltDelta Hosted Solutions provides contact centers of all types access to leading-edge technologies including speech automation, IVR, ACD, VoIP transport, multimodal messaging and outbound alerts on the per-minute used model. To learn more, please visit www.voltdelta.com/voltdelta-hosted-solutions.

Speech: The Most Natural Form Of Self-Service
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions

If you manage a contact center, chances are you have experience in offering self-service to customers: an IVR. A Web site with an (FAQ) list. You know why self-service is good: it automates the basic issues customers have that may take up a large portion of your expensive live agents’ time. Outage and billing information for a utility. Store hours and stock availabilities for a retail store.
Touch-tone IVR for decades was the default for customer self-service. But the effectiveness of touch-tone IVR had a limit. Customers don’t much like traditional touch-tone IVR. It’s also highly inconvenient for an increasingly mobile customer base to hit tiny cell phone buttons while driving or walking.

Enter speech-enabled customer self-service. There is some evidence that customers actually like using speech for self-service. There are no buttons to push, most systems allow “barge in” (so customers don’t have to wait for the end of a prompt), and speech systems are “smarter” and can allow for more ambiguous input.

At the debut of speech technologies for customer service, chances are, you ran into it only with airlines or large banks, and there’s a reason for that: it was hideously expensive, required a team of IT personnel to administer, and needed a lot of space for hardware. So for years, it remained out of reach of most companies. (Premise-based technologies can be a little bit like shopping at Costco: if you don’t have room for five gallons of mayonnaise in your pantry, then shopping there may not be for you.)

Hosted delivery has been a blessing for SMBs for many reasons, but primarily because it has put technologies formerly out of the reach of all but the largest companies — speech and CRM, to name two — into the hands (but off the shoulders) of smaller organizations.

For speech-enabled self-service, hosting is ideal. Call centers can reap the significant benefits of speech in terms of both call routing and offloading basic inquiries from agents, and bypass the large up-front costs and the complexities of managing speech technology on the administrative side. Not to mention convert their ad hoc server farms back into the lunch rooms and supply closets they were supposed to be in the first place.

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