Nuance Names Winners of Its Sixth Annual Best Practices Competition

BURLINGTON, Mass. - Nuance Communications, Inc., formerly ScanSoft, Inc., named the winners of its annual Best Practices Competition, awarded at its annual conference, Conversations 2005. Now in its sixth year, the Nuance Best Practices Competition recognizes companies whose speech solutions improve customer satisfaction, overall caller experience and provide measurable results. This year's winners include: Aetna for Value and Differentiation, AOL for Customer Experience, PGandE for Industry Innovation and Qwest for Brand Promise.

The Best Practices Competition is open to all Nuance customers and its partners' customers. Participating applicants submit case studies that outline the decision-making process and implementation of its speech project, and highlight tangible results of the application. Companies vying for the Best Practices award must meet operational efficiencies as well as noticeable customer retention and satisfaction goals.

A 2003 Best Practices winner, Aetna's Voice Advantage (AVA) speech-enabled integrated voice response (IVR) system handles more than 4.5 million inbound calls each month from members and health care professionals. Aetna provides customer self-service to its constituents by using its Web sites, such as Aetna Navigator™ for members, through its speech-enabled IVR application, or by speaking to a customer representative.

With AVA, Aetna offers personalized menus and 21 self-service options for health care professionals and plan members. For those who need additional assistance, AVA uses call routing to ensure callers are directed to a customer service representative who specializes in the member's plan or to a provider service center representative.

Aetna uses customer feedback and research, including focus groups with Aetna members, to regularly enhance the capabilities and usability of its self-service tools. Aetna's enhancements to AVA as well as online self-service initiatives and targeted marketing campaigns contributed to a nine percent reduction of calls requiring assistance by a representative from 2003 to 2004.

America Online, Inc. deployed speech as part of an effort to provide its online users with access to information over any medium, including the telephone. As part of this initiative, the company launched an initiative that provided its members with customer self-service functions, including registration, billing support, tech support and cancellations. Leveraging speech capabilities, the solution also identifies who the member is and why they are calling. With an expected 85 percent success rate by December 2005, the application exceeded the company's expectations. With more applications planned, the company has already achieved a 150 percent return on investment with Nuance speech solutions.

PGandE serves more than 15 million utility customers each year. Working with Nuance and Nortel, the company built a speech solution that automates a variety of caller's needs, including billing, outage reports, start/stop of service and general inquiries.

PGandE speech enabled the company to automate several functions, including stop/start/transfer service. In addition, text-to-speech technology enables the company to provide information such as the location of pay stations, outage information and more to its more than 14 million customers. Automation rates have improved by as much as 15 percent in some functions of the system since its implementation - higher than the company's desired expectations of five to nine percent.

Qwest receives more than 30 million calls each year from its customers. Leveraging Nuance's Voice Identity Program™, the company developed a persona that reflected the company's image with one challenge: Qwest company policy required that all voices of the company be either employees or customers of Qwest. After a thorough search of more than 47,000 employees and customers, Qwest found Dustin, a native of Phoenix and a customer of Qwest whose voice was consistently ranked highest in surveys with Qwest customers, prospects and employees.

Today, the voice of Dustin is used in all of Qwest's voice-based transactions.

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