Study finds contact centres out of touch with customers

Over a third of respondents reject speech technology

New research has found contact centre managers are out of touch with customers.

The CallCentres.net research polled 111 contact centres, the majority housing over 100 seats, and found call centre managers believe customers would rather speak to agents than use self-service using speech recognition Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology.

High implementation costs and the relevance to the customer were cited by a third of call centre managers who have not or have no intention of implementing speech recognition.

The findings support claims by Wes Hayden, CEO of call centre software vendor Genesys, that "80 percent of companies believe they have a superior [customer service] proposition, [but] only one percent of their customers agree".

CallCentres.net director Catriona Wallace said while the big banks have been slow to adopt speech recognition, they have shown great interest in biometric voice identification for security validation.

"Large retail banks across the Asia Pacific are very keen to use voice biometrics, which surprised vendors, but they would use it for front-end security like identification, rather than to replace [touch tone IVR]," Wallace said.

"[Unrestricted] speech recognition helps business to identify why customers are calling which is invaluable and has helped many businesses to connect with their clients.

"The price of deploying speech recognition has dropped and it is becoming easier to implement as the technology matures."

Nick Buckle, the CEO of Information Technologies Australia, which sponsored the research, said the cost and complexity of speech recognition implementations is decreasing as the technology is refined.

"The time-to-build is falling through the learnings of implementations, and the technology is incorporating a broader template of [voice prints]," Buckle said.

He said adoption will increase, notably in small call centres, as the technology matures and the need for customization decreases.

Voice footprints sit at the front-end of speech-overlaid IVRs and allow customer request to be interpreted by the system.

Telecom New Zealand channel strategy manager Hamish Stewart said customer confidence in the system relies on a solid footprintsthat can recognize voices of different ages, sex and dialects.

"The motivation behind speech recognition [is that] customers have to find their own way around complex [touch-tone] IVRs," Stewart said.

Another CallCentres.net end-user survey of 262 Australian contact centre customers, reported 30 percent of callers prefer speech IVR over talking to an agent, while 85 percent prefer self-service to waiting on hold to speak to an agent.

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