The Power of Speech Recognition

By Wayne Scaggs

Speech Recognition is being used every day by hundreds of thousands of people. It is a known fact that this technology is being implemented everywhere. Why is it so popular now? There are two reasons: First, the technology has advanced tremendously, and second, it is now affordable.

Studies from Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality show that 80% of customers prefer calling companies that use well-applied speech recognition applications. As mobile phone usage continues to increase, a well-applied, accurate and cost-effective speech application is the next competitive advantage for any service provider wanting to serve customers faster. For service providers and businesses, there is rapid return on investment. Telephone hold costs can decrease immediately by at least 10%. Productivity increases as receptionists, staff, and call center personnel are freed up to answer more complex questions.

Speech recognition technology has many different components, including noise-canceling input, a speech recognition engine, vocabularies, application interfaces, and rudimentary natural-language processing. Speaker-independent systems allow anyone to use them, without having to train the system. This feature is a necessity in network applications when the user’s identity is unknown and the number of subscribers makes it impractical to train the system.

The possible uses of speech recognition are limited only by the implementer’s imagination and creativity. Any business with people calling in for help or inquiries is a prime speech recognition candidate, especially for routine calls that are repeated. In the call center environment, speech recognition can function as a virtual customer service representative, the system answers the most frequently asked questions such as, “What are your hours?”

Other possible applications include:

  • Virtual customer service, technical support or help desk system
  • Call router (For example, the caller can say, “customer service” and be transferred to that department.)
  • Movie phone
  • Gather information for market research
  • Account information
  • Field technician support
  • Automatic billing
  • Outbound calling
  • Cell phone safety
  • Dentist, doctor, and medical offices
  • Pizza place
  • Airline
  • Travel agent
  • Broker
  • Directory assistance
  • Insurance industry
  • Retail Industry
  • Government solutions
  • Banking solutions

The power behind speech recognition is simple; the caller feels they are in control of their phone call and their time. There is no more waiting for the right option to be announced. The caller simply asks for what they want – and they get it.

Wayne Scaggs is President of Alston Tascom. He can be reached at 909-548-7300 or

Speech Recognition Vendors

For a list of Speech Recognition vendors who specialize in the Outsourcing Call Center industry, please see our current Speech Recognition Vendor Listing.

From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2006]