Text: Dr. Ir. Wim Luimes

Speech recognition enables people to communicate with a computer by using normal speech. Speech technology is often used at contact centres for the identification of the customer/caller and classification of the conversation or the question. The system understands what the caller says and automatically gives the correct answer (self-service) or transfers the caller to the correct employee.

Telephony (voice) is still the preferred channel for real time customer contacts. The caller won’t be satisfied anymore with a traditional menu or a reference to the website. It is essential to determine the identity of the caller and the reason for the conversation fast and accurate. Because customers are critical and ask every company for an excellent service. Giving them this service is essential for customer binding.

Telecats helps companies to offer an optimal service on the basis of customer contact. The use of advanced speech technology is a requirement for this.

Self-service with “closed” speech recognition

With closed speech recognition a completely natural dialogue is possible, where both the system and the caller can direct the conversation. The system understands what the caller says and gives the right answer. The caller is faced with an “unlimited” input possibility of data. Closed speech recognition is very advisable when data is needed that cannot be inputted with push buttons. For instance place names, postal codes, the names of countries, the names of brochures, date and times, the names of the employees of your company or the names of investment funds. There are different Dutch magazines like De Telegraaf, AD, NRC and Trouw, and publisher’s like Sanoma and Wegener that use speech recognition for the automated handling of telephone complaints about the delivery of newspapers and magazines. Identification of the subscriber is done via postal code and house number.

For the Business Card of the Dutch Railway (NS), Telecats has developed a system to book train rides with speech recognition. Apart from the departure and arrival place the caller can indicate specific wishes. The caller can also get an overview of booked trips. The system is linked to the booking system of the NS.

Open question speech recognition

You want to know why customers contact your organization. With Open Question Speech Recognition you ask your callers an open question: Welcome at ……….., please indicate short and concise why you are calling. With the help of advanced speech technology and search functions it will become clear why your customer calls. It is often advisable to combine the classification with the identification. The identity and the classification result can be complemented with knowledge about the caller, such as the customer profile and the status. Based on these data and the business rules the right service is determined for the customer. The benefits of Open Question Speech Recognition are a fast and good classification, a positive effect on the One Call Resolution, a positive influence on the customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction and also a big cost reduction.

Telecats is responsible for the voice portal of the Dutch Insurance company AEGON. Via one telephonic entrance, the customer is identified and his question is determined by using open question speech recognition. Then the customer is transferred to the most suitable contact centre employee of AEGON, that can look at the Agent Desktop at the customer data, but also the question, the request or complaint, the customer contact history and the information relevant for this conversation.

Speech analysis

With speech analysis telephone conversations at the contact centre are recorded and processed with TST and analysed on the basis of content and emotion of the conversation. The entire conversation is recorded, including choices in the IVR, the waiting period and the conversation with an employee. The recording continues when there is need for a consultation or when the caller is being transferred. By doing so an overall picture of the conversation is created, “from the cradle to the grave”. With speech analysis we get a fast and reliable insight in the reason and content of the conversation, deviations and trends in the telephony offer, possible improvements of company processes and response on commercial actions.

Telecats has used speech technology at the Dutch government agency OCW-DUO, before ‘IB-Groep’. The analysis have led to results so that it was easy to determine the adaptations needed in order to get an optimal handling of conversations.

Dr. Ir. Wim Luimes – w.luimes@telecats.nl – is managing director Telecats

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