The Case for Easy Speech: Metaphor Solutions and Planet Payment

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It could be argued that the majority of contact centers in the United States are fronted by an interactive voice response (IVR) solution as a way to route calls, provide 24/7 service, and offload agents. For a decade, IVR purveyors have marketed speech-enabled IVR solutions as a way to further reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. However, despite technological advances, such as greatly improved development tools and the advent of VoiceXML, these projects haven’t always been easy.

Metaphor Solutions  is one vendor that has cracked the code on delivering plug-and-play, speech-enabled IVR applications that are fast and affordable. With more than 50 prepackaged solutions that can be configured on the Web in minutes and deployed as part of Metaphor’s hosted service, customers can have a speech solution at a fraction of the cost and effort of most in the market.

One innovative Metaphor customer, Planet Payment, has envisioned speech as the ultimate avenue for mobile retail accessibility. Planet Payment is a payment and data processor that enables internationally focused currency processors, merchants, and banks to accept, process, and reconcile credit card transactions in multiple currencies, allowing cardholders traveling outside their country to view prices and complete transactions in their home currencies. Planet Payment’s solutions work within the popular credit card infrastructure, and integrate with top acquirers, processors, gateways, and point-of-sale solution providers in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.

Through its Pay in Your Currency application, Planet Payment provides unique value in letting customers carry their home currencies with them, whether they are physically traveling or virtually shopping abroad. At stores that are registered to provide the service, a customer gets a receipt that shows the purchase price, exchange rate, and price in his home currency. This application gets rid of the guesswork in shopping abroad, enabling consumers to make informed shopping choices because they can see the real price they will pay for the item. It further simplifies the accounting later.

Besides providing multicurrency options, Planet Payment teamed with Metaphor Solutions to add some innovative speech applications to its lineup for merchants and customers. For merchants, the company offers Payment BuyVoice, which enables merchants to call in, be validated, and provide a customer’s sale amount and credit card information. The customer’s information is validated and processed, and then the authorization is spoken back to the merchant, along with a follow-up email or text message.

Merchants can also sign up to create a mobile VoiceStore as part of Planet Payment’s Shop BuyVoice service. A VoiceStore lets customers call in and order by simply saying the name of the desired item or its product code.

Consumer Benefits
For the consumer, Shop BuyVoice is a speech-driven, hosted service that provides consumers with a mobile wallet of sorts. When a customer registers, the application takes a voice print and stores it along with other personal information, such as credit card number and billing address. When the customer shops at a VoiceStore, she is validated as a customer based on her voice print, and can then speak her choice and check out without inputting or saying information such as credit card and shipping address. These automated transactions provide a quick and secure way to shop.

Planet Payment’s speech solutions, powered by Metaphor Solutions, are a refreshing look at speech-driven retail IVR applications, particularly as they make use of consumer mobility and security in a new way. It has been awhile since we have seen many new uses for voice verification. As new merchants sign up, this one might just be a winner.

Nancy Jamison is the principal analyst at Jamison Consulting. She can be reached at nsj@jamisons.com.

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