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Almost every inbound contact center could benefit from the use of a speech automation solution. Historically, only large and well funded contact centers could even consider implementing speech automation due to the complexity and the high up-front cost. With the advent of the hosted model, speech solutions are now available to almost any contact center without the major capital expenditure and technical expertise formerly needed. To attain the maximum effects from implementing a hosted speech solution, the contact center must plan and implement the solutions wisely. Following are some basic rules to increase the positive impact of deploying a speech solution.

Goal setting. Ask the questions that will define the project: what is the goal for implementing a hosted speech solution? Is it to replace an aging DTMF system? To reduce average agent time? To enable a greater level of self-service to callers? To automate the most routine calls? Clearly stating the goals for the implementation help to guide the process and evaluate the results.
Application planning. Analyze the current call flow/user interface, and design a progressive voice user interface that integrates speech technology. Script, mock up and run through the dialogs in an iterative process to improve the user experience of the call flow. Avoid re-creating an existing DTMF prompt; the use of speech will require soliciting responses from directed questions.

Design and implement. With the call flows mapped out, use a graphical user interface to build the application. Be innovative and ask creative questions to help segment grammars and improve overall efficiency. Also, keep track of the errors for individual prompts as well as the overall call flow to guide the automation potential. The number of re-prompts contributes to the balance of a streamlined automation versus the overall customer experience.

Go live. Get ready to implement the solution. Integrate the speech solution with the other assets of the contact center such as CTI with data bases and ACDs for call routing. Testing is also important; from stress testing to goal achievement assessment.
Measure and tune. Speech solutions are an ongoing and iterative process. The hosting provider will provide expertise in token capture, call recording and reporting, and will provide feedback to be used in tuning flows and grammars. Analyze the results and measure success against the original goals.

The hosted speech solution provider is a key resource in all of these steps. The provider has implemented many speech solutions and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the project. The hosted solutions provider should and will be the contact center’s in-house expert.

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, visit www.voltdelta.com/voltdelta-hosted-solutions.

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

Who doesn’t remember the first time he or she interacted with a speech recognition engine? Sure, it felt a bit odd to be speaking to a computer, but it also felt so progressive and futuristic. As an end user of the technology, it was exciting. As a contact center manager or CTO, it was a tad depressing.

It was a technology so far out of the reach of your organization for a number of reasons: cost, implementation time, a lack of IT personnel to plan and administer it and the imagined headaches of troubleshooting it. There is a reason why only large financial services organizations and airlines had speech self-service technologies: they were the only ones that could afford it. Even with the volume of calls that these organizations moved, the ROI still took a long time.

Forget even the expense and time of purchasing and implementing earlier iterations of speech. Just determining your organization’s needs in terms of call-routing and self-service sounded like a headache waiting for a place to happen. Speech is not touch-tone IVR and can’t be treated the same way (and who ever really got the knack of effectively building touch-tone IVR menu trees in the first place?)

Today’s hosted speech solutions are bear little resemblance to the massive-scale projects of five to 10 years ago, except in their enviable end goal: to allow customers to use the most natural of interfaces — their human voice — to take care of their own needs and keep your expensive live agents free to handle complex inquiries which is, after all, what you pay them for.
So now that cost and implementation are no longer a barrier keeping you from seeking speech for your call center, you might need to sit down and make a list to convince yourself (or the company’s executive level) why you should take the steps toward speech-enabling the organization. This part is even easier than today’s hosted solutions implementations. The list of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be dramatically improved via speech is long.

• Because customers like using speech much better than they liked touch-tone IVR, they are less likely to abandon calls. Add to that the fact that speech self-service and routing are more natural and efficient (and therefore customers actually find what they’re looking for), and that call abandon rate drops even further.
• Fewer abandoned calls and better self-service leads, in turn, to more satisfied customers. Companies implementing speech solutions have experienced immediate and noticeable improvements in customer satisfaction.
• More satisfied customers and fewer boring, rote tasks leads to happier agents, less burnout and, therefore, less turnover in the workforce, which is a major cost savings, since recruiting, hiring and training agents is the single largest expense of the contact center.
• Effective speech solutions can lead directly to improved rates of first-call resolution, an achievement that positively touches every KPI and every aspect of the contact center.

What this all means is that the path to effective speech solutions in your contact center is now free of obstacles. It’s time to start listening to the voices of your customers — quite literally.

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