ScanSoft Announces Winners of Annual Best Practices Competition
SAN DIEGO, CA - ScanSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT) announced Aetna Inc., a provider of health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability and long-term care products, as the winner of the 2003 Best Practices Competition. Now in its fourth year, the Best Practices Competition recognizes companies whose speech solutions deliver measurable results and improve customer satisfaction. In addition, Centrelink, an Australian Federal Government agency, was selected as the winner of the "Most Innovative Speech Solution." As a new category within the Best Practices Competition, the Most Innovative Speech Solution award recognizes the company that paves the way for a new frontier of speech applications by applying speech to a unique business problem in an unprecedented way. The Best Practices Competition is open to all ScanSoft end-user customers and its partners' customers. Aetna was selected as this year's Best Practice winner for the company's Aetna Voice AdvantageÒ (AVA) speech application that serves more than 13 million medical members and 11.3 million dental members, as well as nearly 349,000 primary care and specialist physicians. AVA is part of a larger corporate initiative to give members, physicians and practice managers a full range of options in contacting and doing business with Aetna, easily and at their convenience. The initiative also includes self-service Web sites and e-connectivity options where members, physicians and practice managers can receive answers to many questions and complete transactions that are central to doing business with Aetna. "We continue to see an increase in use from members and physicians, which in our opinion, is a direct reflection of the growing customer satisfaction with our speech technology," said Dorothy Verkade, head of Member Portal & AVA at Aetna. "Aetna has paid close attention to customer feedback and has fine-tuned the application in response." Centrelink was created in 1997 to provide service to the community by removing the complexity for Australians accessing government services. Centrelink processes 26 million telephone calls and distributes AU$51.7 billion in social security payments each year. The government agency implemented the speech-enabled Report Employment Income (REI) application in its call centers to assist agents with both the existing inbound workload and the anticipated sharp increase in telephony traffic resulting from a key social welfare initiative called Working Credit. "The call handle time for REI calls is currently averaging 120 seconds and coupled with the high take-up rate we've experienced, we now anticipate that we'll achieve our ROI within 9 to 12 months," said Kevin Parsons, national manager at Centrelink. "As a result of the success of our speech application, we plan to upgrade our existing touch tone functionality for call routing and self service to speech." "This recognition marks a tremendous achievement for both companies," said Steve Chambers, senior vice president and general manager for Network Speech Solutions at ScanSoft. "Centrelink and Aetna have demonstrated tremendous vision with their individual speech strategies and have differentiated themselves from a virtual 'who's who' of organizations worldwide that have successfully deployed speech recognition systems."