Coral Announces the Launch of a Speech Recognition Solution

LONDON, UK - Coral, one of the UK's bookmakers, announced the launch of a telephone-based speech recognition solution from SRC to handle high call volumes and eliminate lost calls from customers wishing to bet on the Martell Cognac Grand National on April 5. Coral's decision to embrace the SRC hosted speech recognition service follows the success of last year's Grand National services developed by SRC, which handled more than 35,000 bets and 60,000 call minutes in the lead up to the race. With an estimated £100 million bet on the race each year, Grand National day is the busiest day of the racing calendar for bookmakers. Telephone betting can see a 300% increase on a normal sporting Saturday and all bookmakers, including Coral, have traditionally been under immense pressure to cope with the nation's enthusiasm for the steeplechase event. By phoning Coral on 0800 169 1010 from Thursday 3 April, punters will be able to place win and each-way bets by speaking to a computer through a custom-designed speech recognition solution prepared specifically for the Grand National. "Following the great success of last year's Grand National betting and other mass-market speech services developed by SRC, speech recognition is now gaining widespread acceptance in many customer service applications," SRC CEO, Chris Hart, said. "Coral needed a proven and cost effective service which could handle the large and varying volume of bets around the Grand National, a hosted speech service is the ideal solution." Coral UK's chief operating officer - non retail, Lee Richardson, said previously resorting to overflow call centres to cope with Grand National day has produced a number of problems related to short-term staff training, real-time liability management, excessive cost and lost calls. "The overriding objective is to manage the huge demand which the Grand National creates while simultaneously opening record numbers of new customer accounts, deal with less-experienced punters, and look after the many thousands of existing Coral customers. "Speech recognition enables us to overcome all these issues, whilst still delivering excellent customer service; our customers simply want to get through, and get on; speech recognition allows us to do that smoothly and cost-effectively," Mr Richardson said. "We have been impressed by the technical capabilities of SRC and how hard they have worked in really understanding the special demands of Grand National day to ensure a seamless service to our customers." "Coral are very excited about the prospects of what speech technology can do for our customers, both old and new, and know that this service will help us better manage the busiest trading day of the year." After a short greeting, callers using the Coral service are asked to speak their debit card number and name and address details before being asked which horse they would like to place a bet on, and how much they would like to bet. The system confirms both the bet and card details with the customer before the bet is placed, with winnings from a successful bet automatically credited back to the card after the race. The minimum bet the system allows is £1. The application developed for Coral is based on the system used during last year's race, however the solution now includes improvements in capturing callers' name and address details and payment processing through the inclusion of SRC's ContactCapture and PaymentCapture applications. The Coral application is hosted on SRC's carrier-grade platform, built on Nortel Networks technology for media processing and call center environments and combines Nuance's speech recognition engine - to recognize what the caller says - with Rhetorical's text-to-speech engine - to confirm back name and address details from millions of possible addresses.
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