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Advancements in IVR Rely on Speech Recognition Technology
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Advancements in IVR Rely on Speech Recognition Technology

April 16, 2012

  By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Natural language speech recognition technology implemented in Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platforms is improving, which allows call centers to communicate through this additional and effective channel. The technology in IVR systems is an innovative development for natural language processing and intelligent dialogue management.

According to this No Jitter post, it can also help answer questions that clients have, without the need for staffing extra live agents within the call center. The IVR never needs a break, calls in sick, or takes vacations, which means the IVR working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As speech engines go, the IVR industry's most innovative weapon is the natural language speech recognition technology. The problem that IVR users have experienced is that if they have an accent, the IVR will not pick up on what they're saying. As the world becomes more globalized, this will continue to be an issue, unless speech recognition technology continues to improve.

A recent report from Language Line Services shows that companies that are offering language support for clients who have limited English skills are finding better retention and improved customer loyalty, which shows up in the earnings reports. Likewise, many state agencies have begun to look into taking more efforts to give these non-English speaking clients better service.

Most IVR systems are set up to give the caller the option to talk to a live agent. The IVR will make that transfer to a person who is capable of communicating with that client in his/her native language. With this method of language line services, companies are able to retain those clients who are not strong in their English speaking abilities, or have no English.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and most U.S. Hospitals will use Language Line Services, as do a majority of the top corporations in the world, many financial institutions, and government agencies.

Language access services are there for live agent interactions only, so it will have no impact on the functionality of an IVR system, but further improvement are being made in voice recognition technology. Take Apple's (News - Alert) Siri voice recognition feature, for instance. It still has issues with English speakers of non-American residence, however.Someone with a thick Irish brogue will have a hard time getting the feature to recognize what they are trying to say. Similarly, with IVR, the problem exists there, too. NPR (News - Alert) recently did a story regarding Siri's Scottish accent problem. While Siri was able to answer half the questions posed by a Scottish person, the other half were fairly amusing interpretations of what it thought was being asked.

The future of IVR should be much more clear and precise to deliver on customer expectations.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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