Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lessons learned: Educate the management, pt. 1

One of the first things I learned about speech projects is how important it is to educate management about speech recognition IVRs. It's not a pretty scene when you roll out a speech application after a year-long effort and the business managers don't understand what they've been given.

  • Tuning. Speech IVRs aren't fully tested during user acceptance testing. They can't be. Full testing depends on having large numbers of real customers hitting the IVR, evaluating the data, and making tweaks to the prompting and grammars. That's tuning. Business managers who don't know about tuning are shocked when they learn that testing isn't complete until several weeks after roll out.
  • Roll out strategy. Deploying a speech IVR isn't simply a matter of flipping a switch and exposing your customers to the IVR, then walking away. Do you really want everyone to hear version 1.0 (see tuning, above)? Can your CSRs answer the inevitable questions from customers about the new system? Who is going to be responsible for ongoing observation and maintenance (see next point, below)? There are a lot of issues that management needs to settle long before the speech IVR is rolled out.
  • Ongoing observation and maintenance. Believe it or not, some business managers think that once the IVR is deployed the business can just walk away from it. That may be true for some limited-functionality DTMF IVRs (and we all know how much customers love those systems) but it certainly is not true for speech IVRs. There's work to do even after a successful tuning cycle, and management needs to plan for that in advance.
I've described three aspects of speech projects that business managers need to know and be fully engaged in to ensure a successful speech rec project. I'll have several others in upcoming posts.

No comments: