Speech recognition finds favour

User feedback more positive than just two years ago

Speech recognition was the most preferred self-service channel among customers of the technology, according to a survey conducted in Australia for Nuance Communications by research company, callcentres.net.

The key findings from the research included:
  • Customer satisfaction levels with using a speech recognition system are high and the satisfaction level is statistically significantly higher than in 2005.

  • The majority of customers would rather use a speech recognition system than wait on hold for more than 30 seconds to speak to a customer service representative.

  • The majority of customers would rather use speech recognition to contact customer service than use Web chat, SMS, e-mail, the Internet or a traditional interactive voice response system.

  • Those who choose to use a speech recognition system do so because they find speech is easy to use and understand and it provides a quick transaction process.

  • The majority of customers stated that the speech recognition system they used required no improvements and they were happy with it as it currently operated.

The research was conducted in the third quarter 2007 by collecting data from 262 Australian end-users of speech recognition technology. Customers were asked to comment on a specific speech recognition application that they had recently used.

The outcomes identified that, overall, customers are statistically significantly more satisfied with their experience when using speech recognition in 2007 than they were in 2005. Nearly three out of five customers were 'very satisfied' or 'extremely satisfied', which is an 11 per cent increase on research conducted in 2005.

The research also validated that speech recognition was the most preferred self-service channel overall, with 66 per cent of respondents preferring speech over the internet and 59 per cent preferring speech to touch-tone IVR. Another interesting result was that since 2005 there has been a distinct reduction in the length of time that a customer is willing to be on hold prior to talking to a customer service representative, before their channel choice switches to self service option. In 2005, on average, customers were willing to wait on hold for up to two minutes before their channel preference changed to speech recognition, compared to results in 2007 where the length of time on hold to a CSR was only 30 seconds before customer preferences changed to speech.

In addition to improved customer satisfaction the callcentres.net research revealed a number of trends relating to customer use and interaction with speech recognition services between the generations and genders.

Speaking about these trends at a recent Nuance seminar, Dr Catriona Wallace, a director of callcentres.net said: "Confidence has emerged as a key factor influencing satisfaction with speech recognition. The research showed that frequent users of speech technology have a statistically significantly higher level of satisfaction with the experience than new or inexperienced users.

"It's also interesting to note that while men are more willing to try speech recognition, it's women who are more likely to become real advocates of the experience once they've used it", Dr Wallace explained

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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