Friday, November 5, 2010

WSJ discovers speech IVR

A story about speech IVRs appeared in a very unlikely place, the Wall Street Journal. The story emphasizes the importance of the sound of the voice as a driver of customer satisfaction, but there's really more to it than that. I think the sound of the voice is important, and have done research to show it, but customer satisfaction also depends on understanding why the customer is calling and providing the right functions in an intuitive manner. The Comments section really show more understanding of this than the author of the article. Thanks to Jenni McKienzie for forwarding this.


Kirsi O'Connor said...

Many people in the industry were delighted that such a prestigious main stream publication picked speech IVR as a topic. As you mention, changing the voice of a poorly designed IVR is purely cosmetic. I just have to wonder why more marketing folks and brand managers don't pay more attention to their company's IVR. After all, IVRs are part of the customer experience so you'd want the IVR to support your brand as well.

Carl Turner said...

I know what you mean about brand managers not paying attention. I can think of one example of a project I was on when the brand manager of a financial institution worked closely with the lead IVR designer to help design a system that reflected the company's brand. Whe brought in market segementation information that influenced the functionality that would be offered, the sound of the voice, the language used, etc. Really thoughtful stuff. In this case, the company at the highest levels recognized the impact of the IVR on brand.

That project was the exception. I've also worked on a project where the brand manager came in after the scripts were completed by the project team and rewritten to reflect the manager's opinion of how prompts should sound. The grammars were under development, and the rewritten prompts didn't sync with the grammars. Mostly though, brand managers ignore IVRs, and I don't know why..