Tech speaks for broker

Speechworks has implemented a corporate voice recognition computer system for the local arm of global discount broker TD Waterhouse, allowing punters to retrieve stock quotes by saying the name or abbreviation of the stock over the telephone.

TalkBroker has driven 25 per cent of TD Waterhouse's call volume away from advisers, freeing their time for more valuable trades, said TD Waterhouse Australia CIO Jonathan Pain. He was confident TD Waterhouse would break even on its investment in TalkBroker ($500,000 to $1 million) within 12 months.

In turn, this has relieved the firm's PABX traffic of routine customer calls.

TalkBroker is 99 per cent reliable and holds 20,000 speech utterances in its computer model, according to Mark Holthouse, Speechworks senior VP of operations. The system is also accessible from wireless PC and remote devices, he said, allowing for live market information access anywhere, any time.

According to Holthouse, routine transactions cost $4 to process, and the solution will mean substantial cost savings for TD Waterhouse. While Pain could not comment on cost savings so far, he said the system has improved business activity analysis by tracking customer patterns better, which has boosted the firm's strategic marketing efforts. TalkBroker has also given customers multichannel access to live stock quotes in privacy and in their own time, he added.

TD Waterhouse will expand TalkBroker's functionality in the next 18 months to offer speech-activated share trading services, Pain said.

According to ACA Research, over the next two years 20 per cent of Australian businesses plan to employ speech recognition technology to ease some of the more tedious duties of customer interface.

Speechworks is considering delivering speech-activated solutions and voice portal applications through an applications services provider model, according to Holthouse.

TalkBroker will be implemented on an advanced interactive voice response (IVR) platform by InterVoice-Brite. Local systems integrators Trilogy Business Systems Australasia will provide the total TalkBroker solution.

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