Spoken Communications Launches Smart IVR for 411

Spoken Communications, a provider of cloud platform for contact center outsourcers, has released Spoken Smart IVR for 411, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system tailored to the needs of the directory assistance market.

The Spoken Smart IVR for 411 is a patented solution that utilizes pinpointed, real-time human intervention in the form of "Silent Guides" to increase the efficiency of IVR automation. When the automated speech recognition (ASR) engine doesn't understand a caller utterance, rather than asking the caller to repeat the response, the utterance is flagged for a Silent Guide to correct while the call flow continues for the caller without pause. As a result, directory assistance providers can answer more calls with fewer live agents while simultaneously improving accuracy and customer experience.

Historically, ASRs have been confined by limited grammars and problematic background noise, which can hinder the customer experience, according to the company. 411 calls in particular are focused on a single task and ideally quite short. Therefore, every second of the interaction directly affects the customer experience. According to research from Aspect software, 89 percent of customers identified that "repeating-myself" syndrome is one of their biggest sources of irritation when calling into a call center. This presents a unique challenge to 411 IVR development: how can providers be assured of high first-time speech recognition levels and avoid the need for costly response repetition? With the Smart IVR's Silent Guides monitoring four to 10 calls simultaneously, the benefits of improving automation accuracy far outweigh the costs.

"Consumers have increasingly high expectations of automated speech interaction with IVR systems, due in part to publicity about mobile personal assistants and voice search," said William Meisel, president of TMA Associates, in a statement. "Meeting and sustaining those expectations can be difficult and expensive in a directory assistance environment. Spoken's solution of backing up the speech understanding with 'hidden' agents is an effective compromise that maintains caller confidence, while at the same time, identifying areas where the natural-language processing needs to be bolstered."