Archive | 1:27 pm

OK, so why Speech?

14 May

listen and understand

plan and respond

Businesses of all sizes, governments and other organisations are introducing Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) in their existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes, or upgrading their Touchtone (DTMF) IVRs, or even deploying brand new services from scratch. Their motivation is to keep Call Centre and Helpline costs down, aiming at the same time towards 24/7 availability of both information and services to their customers, as well as towards increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A number of questions need to be answered, however, before going ahead with implementing a speech-activated or speech-enabled self-service:

  • Why use speech recognition in your CRM process at all?
  • Is speech really necessary or is touchtone sufficient or even more suited to your purposes?
  • Should perhaps your service combine both speech and touchtone? Which modality should be used where and when?
  • What is VUI Design and why and where will you need it?
  • How can you tell a “good” from a “bad” design?
  • How can you test a service and how can you ensure your customers will accept and even … like it?!
  • Is it possible to optimise an existing service and how?

This is where a Discovery Workshop will come in handy!

Define the solution through a series of Discovery Workshops

A proper VUI Designer will work closely with your organisation to help you answer questions such as the above and to help you decide on the potential business case for the introduction of speech and/or touchtone (DTMF) in your existing CRM processes. To this effect, intensive and productive 1-5 day Discovery Workshops should be organised, which will also be used for the conception and design of new services – if applicable.

In the process, the VUI Designer should talk extensively to both your Accounts and Marketing executives, and your IT staff, as all aspects of your business need to be taken into account in order to have a comprehensive, representative and realistic view of the existing and any potential issues, and the possibilities for optimisation. Part of this process involves identifying and interviewing real people, representative of your target market segments. The logic behind this is to pinpoint more accurately and effectively the needs, goals and expectations of both sides (the organisation and the end customer) regarding the planned service. Existing business processes, marketing strategies and channels are analysed, along with financial, logistical and technical constraints and targets.

The outcome of these brainstorming sessions and workshops should be a VUI Vision Proposal along with a Statement of Works report. The VUI Vision paper sketches out the proposed Voice User Interface, both in terms of suggested and desired functionality (what the system can and cannot do) but also in terms of hear-and-feel (communication style and tone). The accompanying Statement of Works is again a proposal on the corresponding list of tasks and deliverables towards the implementation of the VUI vision and feeds into the final Project Plan.

Some organisations decide – to their peril – to limit the time spent on such Brainstorming activities (too “fluffy” for them!) or even skip them altogether. The repercussions later on in the project cycle can be devastating. Erroneous or unrealistic assumptions about what a service should do and what its users expect or how they behave can mean that the whole time designing and implementing the solution could go to waste. After that, starting again from scratch is the only – very embarrassing! – option!

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