Boeing's Credit Union Switches to Speech-Enabled IVR

Boeing Employees' Credit Union (BECU) selected TuVox for the redesign and restructure of its telephony infrastructure to include an interactive voice response (IVR) application.

The credit union, which has 520,000 members and more than $7.5 billion in assets, will move from several legacy touch-tone IVR applications to TuVox's Natural Language Speech application, using the service in aiding customers who call in to access their checking or savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and other services. In so doing, BECU joins a growing number of credit unions and financial institutions selecting speech-enabled IVRs. TuVox specializes in the financial industry, counting clients such as M&T Bank, Wachovia, Citigroup, H&R Block, and American Airlines Federal Credit Union.

Steve Pollock, TuVox's executive vice president and cofounder, says BECU not only wanted to make the migration from touch-tone systems, but use a
speech IVR as part of an overall strategy to improve the company's customer experience. "A lot of financial institutions are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and be more easily accessible," Pollock says. "I view [BECU] as a very forward-thinking institution that really wants to push the envelope in terms of how they want to compete from a service standpoint in the marketplace."

To improve customer service, BECU plans to integrate the TuVox Perfect Router application into its IVR. The program navigates callers to a desired destination using a natural language interface, and How can I help you?-style prompts. While Pollock states BECU did not choose a speech IVR because of a specific business problem, studies have shown that using speech in an IVR system greatly reduces caller opt-out rates.

Linda Smith, division manager at Nuance Communications, noted in an August 2007 ComputerWorld article that speech-enabled IVRs can reduce misdirected calls by 50 percent, and cut zero-out rates by 30 percent. In the same article, Elizabeth Herrell, an analyst at Gartner Research, claimed that speech-enabled automated calls cost 30 cents to complete, compared to the $6 rate for an agent-assisted customer inquiry.

Pollock says the phased deployment of the BECU solution will begin "shortly," with the process deploying through to next year. When finished, he adds, the application will include a new feature, a BECU ATM and branch locator.

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