The 2015 Speech Industry Luminaries: Kristie Goss

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Kristie Goss

human factors consultant, Convergys

When it comes to voice user interface design, Kristie Goss is as hands-on as anyone can get. A human factors consultant at Convergys, Goss this year is set to complete a best-practices guide for voice user interface design.

The guide, which will be available as an online wiki that other VUI and IVR designers can add to, edit, update, and review, is now about 80 percent complete and should be finished later this year.

Goss, along with several other founding members of the Association for Voice Interaction Design (AVIxD), a professional group of user interface designers, had been working on the Web resource for the past two years, but this year she really "spearheaded it to some kind of conclusion," says Leslie Walker, senior manager of human factors at Convergys.

The guide offers basic IVR design advice, but it also tackles some of the industry's more challenging issues, including sociolinguistics, prosody, the strategic use of silence, and menu structures.

Prior to this work, "there had been nothing solid in the industry," Walker says. "There was a lot of tribal knowledge, but nothing formalized like this."

Goss is no stranger to collaboration. She has also worked with several industry colleagues to devise a method and system for creating natural language understanding grammars, an effort for which they received a U.S. patent.

Another project this year saw Goss collaborating with a group of seventh graders in her home state of Alabama. The outcome of their work together was an IVR that students can use to anonymously report bullying and get answers to common questions about bullying. Through this volunteer effort, Goss effectively taught the next generation how to leverage speech technology as an interface between humans and machines—while addressing a growing social concern.

Goss also serves as a member of the board of directors at AVIxD and has conducted numerous usability studies and shared her findings with her peers. Prior to joining Convergys in 2004, Goss was a VUI designer at Z-Tel Communications, a phone and Internet services provider.

Walker calls her "a real advocate for users of speech technology," providing a much-needed alternative view to companies that are often only concerned with business rules and key performance indicators.

"She is an advocate for the proper use of speech technologies to ensure that customers are getting a good experience," Walker adds. 

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