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Customers Shouldn’t Have To Think About Speech Recognition 

Customers Shouldn’t Have To Think About Speech Recognition

Customers Shouldn’t Have To Think About Speech Recognition

By Donna Fluss

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In more than 18 years of being involved in interactive voice response, I have seen speech recognition run the gamut in terms of implementation. In the worst cases, businesses have ignored the customer, failing to make needs assessments before putting everything in place. They wind up with a tool no one uses. In the best scenarios, companies present customers with a system they find so easy to use, they barely think about it.

If you don’t implement your speech recognition wisely, you might as well not have any at all. With that in mind, here are best practices that I developed after working with hundreds of contact-center clients both in my three and a half years as a vice president and research director in Gartner’s CRM Practice and in my three years as the principal of a contact center consulting company. They will serve your customers–and your business well.

Speech Recognition Best Practices

Applying best practices and lessons learned from the thousands of speech recognition implementations will lead to a successful initiative. The recommendations below will help your enterprise avoid common pitfalls and build a speech environment that your customers find compelling and useful.

  1. Conduct a customer needs assessment before making investments. Too many companies skip this step in order to save money and assume that their service and marketing organization can provide this detail or that customers will use whatever they provide.
  2. Give customers what they want in the speech application, not what your enterprise would like them to want. Customers want to do business “their” way and will only use the system if they find it valuable. (But it’s fine to use marketing communications to introduce new capabilities and services.)
  3. Involve agents in system design and testing. Contact center agents generally know what customers want and are the most appropriate internal group to represent the needs of customers.
  4. Invest in the voice user interface, dialogue design, system persona and voice talent. These components are critical to your company’s branding, voice experience and the success of the application.
  5. Keep dialogues succinct and simple and use proper language. Do not overwhelm customers with too many options. Speech is a very simple interface, but if too many options are presented, customers will get confused and request agent assistance.
  6. Allow customers to access “live” agents easily. Customers do not want to feel trapped in the system. If they can easily reach a live agent, they are more likely to give the system a try.
  7. Create a customer feedback loop and closely monitor customer preferences. Create an environment that allows customers to share their thoughts with your company and then take advantage of their input.
  8. Quickly fix the problems identified by customers and enhance the speech application on a periodic basis. However, do not make major changes to the application, user interface and dialogue more than once a quarter, as customers do not like frequent change, even if they do want enhancements.
  9. Communicate with customers about service enhancements. Let customers know that you are investing in their service quality. Do not wait for customers to accidentally find new options on the speech application.
  10. Involve all customer-facing departments, including sales and marketing, in the speech effort. The speech system benefits the entire organization, not just the service department.

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