SoundBite and Latitude Collect on Debt

Customer contact solutions provider SoundBite Communications and Latitude Software, a provider of debt collection solutions, are joining forces to develop a speech-enabled outbound calling solution for debt collection.

With this new solution, which will rely on Nuance's speech recognition engine, creditors will be able to make automated outbound calls using their own databases. When a call is answered, an automated voice on the other end will prompt the call recipient to verify his identity with a number of options, such as the last four digits of his social security number. After he enters that information, an automated text-to-speech message provides information about the past-due account and gives the option to use a self-service system to make a payment, the option of promise to pay, or the option to speak with a live agent. The self-service and promise to pay options will be offered in touchtone and/or speech recognition, depending on the client's preference.

"The collections industry has been around for a long time—as long as people have had credit," explains Chris Selland, vice president of business development at SoundBite. "There is a big opportunity here, mainly because there are a ton of legacy systems out there. There is a lot of really old technology in the industry and there is a refresh cycle going on. Both [Soundbite and Lattitude] have been growing because of the fact that there is technology change.

"Collections is not our only industry, but it is a big industry for us," Selland says. "We are staying ahead of the curve with our competitors by doing more integration and automation because it really changes the whole dynamic of how a call center functions and operates. The more you can automate, the more profitable the client is going to be and, of course, the more profitable the client is, the more they are going to do business with us."

Since SoundBite's voice messaging solution is hosted and is based on SOAP/XML, the client will not be required to purchase any additional hardware or software. The SoundBite solutions use Nuance's speech recognition engines and are provided as part of the platform. Clients have access to this technology and more without needing to purchase it outright from vendors, which lowers the overall cost and decreases the client's potential risk with deployment.

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