Omaha Public Power District Invests in Syntellect Technology

Syntellect, a provider of speech-enabled customer, employee and supply-chain self-service software solutions and hosted services, has been awarded a contract by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to design and implement a Vista Interactive Media Response (IMR) solution.

The utility will complement its Web and agent-based customer service with a new full-featured Syntellect interactive voice response system using speech recognition.

"We want to offer our customers automated self-service that is user-friendly, accurate, efficient, and personalized," said Jim Smith, manager of Customer Care Services at OPPD. "We plan to improve not only the usability of the system but also to add many new services with speech recognition and touchtone access, in both English and Spanish. The sophisticated routing and data capture inherent in the new system will also improve our customer service representatives' productivity, allowing them to deliver better and more cost-effective service."

OPPD plans to offer this new automated self-service option to both its residential and commercial customers. It is anticipated that customer service, outage reporting and switchboard functions will all be improved. Residential callers will be able to receive account information; select from a variety of different payment options and make a payment; start, stop or transfer service; or learn about the many OPPD power products available.

"As utility companies continue to be challenged by the need to reduce operating costs while maintaining or improving service, the adoption of IVR technology and speech recognition will increase," said Filomena Gogel, managing director of the Utility Customer Care practice at E Source, a utility industry consulting firm. "Utilities realize that it's not just about reducing costs but also about giving customers additional choice and convenience in dealing with their utility company. A recent study we conducted with The Response Center revealed that IVR is a key driver of satisfaction for customers during outage calls. What customers say they want from these systems is ease of use and that their call be handled quickly," Gogel added. "We are excited about the benefits the Syntellect system will provide our customers, while also giving OPPD the capability to cost-effectively meet our future growth needs," said Larry Ciecior, division manager of Customer Information Services for OPPD.

"Since Vista IMR is an open architecture solution based on industry-standard hardware and software, we will be able to rapidly develop and implement future functionality using speech recognition." "Syntellect has served the utility industry for many years, and we've developed a deep understanding of the needs of this industry. We're very pleased to add OPPD, with its award-winning reputation for customer satisfaction, to our long list of satisfied electric and natural gas retailer customers," said Tony Carollo, chairman and CEO of Syntellect.

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