is a proven technology that is reliable and useful. This technology has been around for nearly two decades. IVR is arguably the most ubiquitous form of automation, and has been introduced into almost every aspect of our lives. Without IVR, we’d still be waiting in line at the bank teller to get our balance and see if our checks cleared. When’s the last time you did that? The fact that IVR has come as far as it has is also the reason many companies find themselves today with outdated systems. Because computer technology advances so quickly and vast numbers of IVR systems were built over the years, many require upgrading for reasons of security and maintenance, as well as to take advantage of new features and functionality.
Challenges to old systems include security threats such as viruses, obsolete operating systems no longer supported, outdated development platforms from companies that have long ceased to exist, and inability to improve performance to match user expectations.
Utilities have widely adopted IVRs. According to a 2005 Chartwell report on IVR applications and speech technologies, more than 63 percent of utilities use this technology to handle some types of calls. Upgrading the utility IVR is a trend in the industry and many utilities choose to incorporate speech recognition in their IVR during re-engineering efforts.
One of the key components to speech-enabled IVRs is the design of the voice user interface (VUI). The VUI includes the call flow of the speech recognition system and the voice and persona of the system itself.
The objective of VUI design is “not about fooling callers into believing they are talking to a live call center agent, but rather making callers forget that they are talking to a machine,” wrote Tom Houwing and Paul Greiner in “Design Issues in Multilingual Applications.” VUI designs today offer the options of natural language and directed dialog.
Brian Solomon is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To see more of his articles, please visit Brian Solomon’s columnist page.
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