Listen Before You Leap
One of the biggest customer complaints about automated interactions is that they’re impersonal. That holds especially true for customers who are in a highly emotional state when they call a company; they want to know that there is someone on the other end of the line who can empathize and help. While interactive voice response (IVR) systems can’t empathize, they can be more personal, instilling more customer trust and confidence in the IVR. However, when personalizing automated interactions, if you’re not careful, your IVR quickly can go from friendly to freaky.
Even though customers’ exposure and comfort levels with IVRs are growing, it can still be off-putting to have a personal interaction with a machine. The key is: When it comes to personalization, don’t go too far. At a certain point in the interaction, it is encouraging to realize that a machine knows me, from my account history to product, delivery, and payment preferences. However, don’t freak me out by making the interaction overly personal—we’re not going to have dinner together.
When personalizing an IVR, customer strategists should follow one of the most important lessons they learned from social media interactions: Before you do anything, listen. In the feature story “What’s in a Name?”, News Editor Leonard Klie writes: “Even the most well-intentioned businesses would soon learn that when they try to give a customer what they think she needs rather than what she wants or asks for, there is little forgiveness for a system that detours her away from her intended task.”
Listening to customers tends to yield the best business insight for a company, as well as promote innovation. That is certainly evident in the smartphone market, which is experiencing leaps in innovation and growth. Although still a relatively new market, the potential for speech technology is great. However, speech developers should move cautiously because some mobile operating systems would better suit their needs than others would. Our extended coverage of the mobile landscape evaluates the best mobile operating systems for speech technology and provides examples of useful speech-based mobile applications for businesses.
If you haven’t done so already, make arrangements to attend SpeechTEK Europe 2011 (May 25–26) at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London. The conference features keynote presentations from Dave Burke, engineering director at Google, and Alex Waibel, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Plus, you’ll learn about a variety of speech solutions for the European market. To register, visit www.speechtek.com/europe2011.
Otherwise, you can mark your calendar for SpeechTEK 2011 (August 8–10) at the New York Hilton. Look for updates on this event at www.speechtek.com.
Editorial Director David Myron can be reached at email@example.com.