Speech Technology Magazine

 

SpeechWorks and America First Credit Union Offer Speech-Enabled Credit Union Application; Centrelink Selects SpeechWorks and iTa to Deliver Natural Language Speech Recognition Solutions; SpeechWorks Introduces T-S.T.E.P.

BOSTON, MA - SpeechWorks International Inc. deployed a speech-enabled application forAmerica First Credit Union (AFCU).
Posted Jul 1, 2002
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BOSTON, MA - SpeechWorks International Inc. (Nasdaq: SPWX), a developer of speech recognition and text-to-speech (TTS) technologies and services, deployed a speech-enabled application for America First Credit Union (AFCU) in Utah. America First serves 309,997 members and has over $2.2 billion in assets. The SpeechAccess self-service application allows AFCU members to access account information and conduct transactions by using their voice. SpeechWorks delivered the application on an InterVoice-Brite (Nasdaq: INTV) platform with a SpeechWorks Here Guarantee, a money-back commitment to deliver caller satisfaction and on-time delivery. "Speech is a vital component to our goal of offering our members the most advanced technology and solutions to meet their financial needs," said Rich Syme, vice president of automated services at AFCU. "Operating in a highly competitive market makes 'time-to-market' a top priority. We wanted an intuitive and easy-to-use speech service that we could augment with additional offerings to our members in the future. The SpeechWorks Here Guarantee made the difference--SpeechWorks understood what was important to us and delivered on its guarantee." When AFCU members call 1-800-288-7896, they are greeted by a speech-enabled auto attendant, who guides them through their financial transactions over the telephone using voice commands. To access a member account, the SpeechAccess system prompts the caller to say their account number or social security number and four-digit personal identification number (PIN). AFCU members can then perform several financial transactions and take advantage of services such as account balance and history, account payments, funds transfers, change address, stop payment, report lost or stolen credit cards, open new accounts, and more. "Speech in financial service applications is a powerful way to increase customer service and reduce costs," said Jerry Silva, principal analyst, The Tower Group, a financial services analyst firm. "America First Credit Union's new speech application is comprehensive, allowing callers to perform a wide array of transactions simply by navigating with their voice. AFCU and SpeechWorks are leading the industry by creating an application that really makes life easier for thousands of people." "AFCU has clearly established itself as a technology leader in the credit union industry with its aggressive speech strategy and commitment to continually improve its member services," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer at SpeechWorks. "Speech offers callers greater flexibility and faster, friendlier service than touch-tone systems. AFCU members will benefit from using the speech interface to complete self-service banking transactions from any location, at any time of day."
Centrelink Selects SpeechWorks and iTa to Deliver Natural Language Speech Recognition Solutions
BOSTON, MA and SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SpeechWorks International Inc. (Nasdaq: SPWX) in partnership with Information Technologies Australia (iTa), announced it has been chosen as the supplier of Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR) solutions for Centrelink, the Federal Government agency delivering a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. The SpeechWorks solution forms part of a multi-million dollar project which includes hardware, software and professional services provided by SpeechWorks, iTa and Telstra. The solution will run on an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform from InterVoice-Brite Inc. (Nasdaq: INTV), a provider of voice-enabled information solutions. Centrelink's first speech-enabled application will be implemented next year as part of the Working Credit initiative to allow customers to report earnings income via the NLSR service, automating the complex task of collecting data which is currently conducted manually either by customers filling in forms or through the contact centre. "We chose speech recognition as a way to improve service for our customers," Centrelink National Manager, Hank Jongen, said. "By giving people an easy access channel to report earnings, we anticipate the speech system will facilitate regular and on-time reporting conveniently and effectively for customers. This is the result of three years of careful analysis and research into the speech recognition market and we are delighted to be working with our chosen partners on developing this speech application." With more than 4,000 staff across 28 sites in Australia, Centrelink's contact center network processes 24 million telephone calls and distributes AU$51.7 billion in social security payments each year. "Customer service is the hallmark of Centrelink's relationship with its customers. We believe the integration of natural language speech recognition will expand customer choice and access to information and services, and will further enhance Centrelink's world leading reputation for quality customer service," said Mr. Peter Chidiac, Country Manager Australia and New Zealand, SpeechWorks International. The speech platform is supplied and supported by iTa and managed by Telstra under its Managed Services Contract with Centrelink. "iTa is very proud to be teaming yet again with SpeechWorks International in delivering a world-leading solution for Centrelink's customers. By leveraging SpeechWorks' superior speech recognition technology along with iTa's extensive capability of local telephony software integration and support expertise, we will be able to provide a level of customer service unsurpassed in Australia's Federal government sector," said Simon Uren iTa's Director Technology and Development.
SpeechWorks Introduces T-S.T.E.P.
BOSTON, MA - SpeechWorks International Inc. (Nasdaq: SPWX), a developer of speech recognition and text-to-speech (TTS) technologies and services, unveiled a new, technology-focused customer program to accelerate an organization's time-to-results with speech services. Based on the success of SpeechWorks B-S.T.E.P. (Speech Technology Evaluation Process for Business Professionals) program, the T-S.T.E.P. (Speech Technology Evaluation Program for Technology Professionals) program offers the same custom, consultative approach as SpeechWorks' landmark customer program, but is designed exclusively for an organization's technology professionals. "The S.T.E.P. program was extremely valuable to us when we were mapping out our speech strategy," said Bill Strickland, technology director at Thrifty Car Rental. "By optimizing this value-add program for technology evaluators, an organization's business and technical decision makers can now influence their speech systems from the start, accelerating time-to-results. We applaud SpeechWorks for their focus on and commitment to customer results." Thrifty participated in the SpeechWorks Here Guarantee and the Market Accelerator Program, two programs offered in the B-S.T.E.P. program to help SpeechWorks' customers achieve the highest levels of success with their speech service. SpeechWorks created the T-S.T.E.P. program to answer the demand from technology professionals tasked with evaluating the benefits and integration profiles of new technologies like speech. T-S.T.E.P. provides technologists with essential knowledge of speech technologies, user interface (UI) design, industry standards (e.g. VoiceXML, SALT, MRCP and others), technology benchmarking, platform integrations, and the technical integration process. With T-S.T.E.P., technology professionals have the information they need to make recommendations on specific speech applications, underlying technologies, deployment strategies and a clear technology integration plan. T-S.T.E.P. ensures that a company's ultimate decision on a speech application will be thorough, well informed and in lock-step with its overall IT strategy. Both T-S.T.E.P. and B-S.T.E.P. programs begin with a guideline titled, "Defining Your Company's Speech Strategy". A speech strategy is a company-wide blueprint for applying speech throughout an organization. Extending beyond point speech applications, the enterprise-wide speech strategy aims to achieve maximum benefits of cost-reduction, customer satisfaction, automated cross-and-up sells and brand congruity. "We've successfully delivered B-S.T.E.P. to over 150 leading companies worldwide," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer at SpeechWorks. "In the process, companies consistently expressed a need for a similar program for the technical side of the house. T-S.T.E.P. provides technology professionals with tools and knowledge to inform their decisions and more importantly, the tools and knowledge that will help them achieve target results in the shortest timeframe." The T-S.T.E.P. program is a 5-step process that offers technology professionals the necessary tools and knowledge to make decisions on the right speech applications and deployment strategies for their business. SpeechWorks' application engineers guide the T-S.T.E.P. process through the following 5 steps: T-S.T.E.P. #1: SpeechWorks Here Foundation provides an overview of the fundamental speech technologies: automated speech recognition, text-to-speech and speaker verification. Foundation provides technical professionals with a solid foundation of information to understand and evaluate speech technologies. SpeechWorks presents participants with an industry resource guide, a technical glossary, relevant white papers, and a suite of customized presentations, facilitated in an interactive forum. T-S.T.E.P. #2: SpeechWorks Here Evaluation presents a more in-depth, advanced suite of information that spans service deployment options, technology roadmaps, technology evaluation criteria, industry standards, multimodal applications and other customer-relevant technical topics. Evaluation delivers technology professionals the tools and knowledge to optimize time to deployment, R.O.I. and ease of integration. Evaluation participants can receive a Technical Evaluation Kit including an independent, third-party report which details an appropriate methodology for evaluating and benchmarking speech technologies. SpeechWorks presents Evaluation participants a suite of custom presentations, the Evaluation Kit, white papers, technical product profiles, an interactive presentation and more. T-S.T.E.P. #3: SpeechWorks Here Connections begins with a consultative workshop to discover the functional requirements of the speech application(s), evaluate platform options and determine key integration points to backend databases and CTI systems. SpeechWorks presents technologists with platform and UI TIPs (Technical Implementation Profiles) that describe partner technology integrations and UI design profiles. Following the Connections Workshop, SpeechWorks convenes business and technical S.T.E.P. participants for a Speech Summit, where SpeechWorks presents a summary technical specification document and Vision Clip that demonstrates how the speech service will sound in a real-life deployment. T-S.T.E.P. #4: SpeechWorks Here Guarantee is the money-back, results assurance commitment to customers. Through this program, SpeechWorks ensures a successful implementation and caller experience that meets time-to-market requirements and caller satisfaction goals. Here, technologists will learn about the technical requirements needed to achieve agreed-upon transaction completion rates (TCR). TCR is the percentage of calls that are completed successfully using speech recognition, without agent intervention. To date, SpeechWorks has achieved over 100 percent satisfaction from its Guarantee customers. T-S.T.E.P. #5: SpeechWorks Here Technical Achievement Plan (TAP) provides proven development guidelines and maintenance and tuning advice to help customers achieve the greatest benefits from their speech system. TAP is a formal, customized transfer of information to ensure technologists have all the tools, training and information they need to maintain, tune and update their speech service going forward. Customer applications will benefit from SpeechWorks' tools and programs such as OpenSpeech Insight reporting and analysis tool and the SADL (Speech Application Development Lifecycle) process, both of which will aid in the speech application's continued performance. A SpeechWorks Institute courseware review will profile hands-on training and lab-based courses on a variety of topics so customers can further develop, maintain and support their speech applications. A SpeechWorks Learning Module review will profile customized, intensive, on-site training session options as well. Following the customized TAP session, SpeechWorks will evaluate the application's "Speech IQ", a measurement of five Critical Speech Factors that can help companies achieve the highest return from their investment and optimum results. The five Critical Speech Factors include Caller Monetization, Caller Motivation, Caller Performance, Caller Affiliation and Caller Behavior. SpeechWorks will work with each customer to ensure that their speech application achieves the highest Speech IQ possible.
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