EDF Energy and The OutRight Company Selected Fluency

LONDON - EDF Energy, an energy company in the UK, deployed Fluency Voice Technology's speech recognition technology, which is handling 21 percent of EDF's calls in the automated speech system.

EDF Energy supplies energy to over five million customer accounts in the UK and over 25 percent of the UK population depends on it for electricity supplies. With this customer base, EDF Energy's call centers receive around 12 million calls each year, almost 10 million of which are currently taken by live agents.

Following a formal tendering process, EDF Energy selected an interactive speech recognition call center application from Fluency to handle the more routine calls.

Since going live at the end of July 2005, the Fluency application has been handling the equivalent of 2.5 million calls a year, representing 21 percent of EDF' Energy's total call volume. These comprise the three most common types of customer calls: account balances, payments and registering meter readings. EDF Energy is using Fluency's PaymentCapture and IDVS (Identification and Verification with Status) applications; both of which form part of the Virtual Speech Agent (VSA) SuiteTM. PaymentCapture enables payment for transactions such as paying a balance. IDVS allows validation of customers before providing access to personal account information such as outstanding bills. 

Mike Belton, head of management information at EDF Energy, said, "Fluency already addressed the three areas where we wanted to make immediate service improvements. This meant less risk than if we had implemented a bespoke solution, and will ultimately mean lower cost, as bespoke solutions need ongoing attention so the cost can be more unpredictable."

"Our business is growing but it doesn't make economic sense to keep expanding the call centre, so we need to be able to work smarter with the resources we have already," Belton noted. "EDF Energy recognises that customers are increasingly more comfortable using self service facilities which are conveniently available 24 hours a day and if this is their channel of choice we want to make sure we give them the best possible experience. The Fluency solution will enable us to do this."

Commenting on Fluency's natural language system Belton added, "We've observed customers talking to the system as though they think they're really dealing with a human being. We also like way it mixes speech and touchtone functionality, giving callers the best of both worlds. With the continued growth in mobile phone use, relying on touchtone alone is no longer an option."

OutRight Selects Speech Recognition from Fluency

The OutRight Company, a personal lines insurance broker providing a resource to national and regional brokers and blue chip corporate clients, selected Fluency Voice Technology's latest packaged application, the Virtual Speech Agent (VSA) SuiteTM, to underpin its speech-enabled customer services.

Ray Westwick, head of business partnerships at OutRight, explained, "We operate in a fast moving and highly competitive marketplace and we are passionate about the role that technology can play in increasing the speed and efficiency of our service whilst also improving the customer experience." Westwick continued, "Speech recognition, when used appropriately, can deliver immense benefit to our organisation in terms of reduced overhead, better response times and an optimised and competitively superior service.  This all impacts customer service and therefore retention but significantly it also benefits regulated industries such as ours with improved compliance."

Fluency's VSA Suite is made up of a series of applications, each of which can work independently, but can also be deployed together throughout the enterprise depending on specific business needs. This offered OutRight a selection of applications to automate their call center workflows and to change and maintain the system internally.

"We proactively chose to trial speech recognition technologies in our business and the Fluency VSA suite gave us the flexibility to do this simply and quickly and then learn from the experience," added Westwick.  "This is exactly what we have done. We selected a number of simple but overhead-intensive tasks and we automated them with the Fluency VSA Suite. One of the applications we selected was Router which allows our callers to use a conversational approach to achieve their desired destination, they are then categorized based on their needs and then simply routed to the right person or department.  This enables our expert agents to handle the more complex and revenue generating transactions.  Routing these calls to the right destination has already demonstrated that it will improve customer service levels and reduce costs.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg for speech recognition at OutRight.  This initial deployment has revealed a number of customer enquiries and tasks that can be automated and optimised using the Fluency VSA suite including a travel insurance quote application which is already under development. Ray is optimistic for the future of speech commenting, "Standing still just isn't an option at OutRight.  We see the efficiency and customer service improvements that we can achieve by using a virtual agent to handle simple repeatable tasks. Customers now demand 24/7 self service and that is exactly what we can provide with Fluency's VSA Suite. The opportunity to improve service levels, reduce costs and maintain that all important competitive-edge is boosted significantly with the application of speech recognition across our business."


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