SpeechStorm Releases New Persona for the IVR

Phone and mobile customer service solutions provider SpeechStorm has released a new interactive voice response (IVR) application, code-named Hitchcock.

SpeechStorm, based in Northern Ireland, is an application company that provides the framework to create apps for speech for IVRs and mobile solutions. The company's new offering allows customers to interact on various levels with the call center, depending on their preferences, profiles, and behaviors.

"SpeechStorm is a complete environment in which to design, configure, test, and deploy self-service applications for IVR (on Voice XML compliant platforms) and mobile (iPhone & Android)," says Damian Kelly, vice president of sales and marketing at SpeechStorm. "The framework provides an intuitive user interface—designed for business users, not developers—including drag-and-drop design for new applications and a one-click deploy from test to live so changes can be applied instantly. The framework also enables personalization of interactions based on customer behavior, profile, or preferences and includes powerful reporting so the business can understand more about how customers actually interact with the system."

The Hitchcock persona can be tailored to provide alternative voices or personalities for IVRs, targeting a specific population (male or female), market (such as young or mature), or company brand. Companies can further personalize the persona to offer specific options, messages, or offers that zero in on a specific profile. The persona can presented as friendly or formal, depending on the company, and supports several languages, including English, French, Spanish, and German.

New personas can be created through an intuitive business user interface and can be used with any speech engine.

When calling a bank to check balances or make payments, for example, frequent callers can be presented with shortened menu prompts, enabling them to go through options quickly. First-time callers, on the other hand, will hear menus and options with more explanation and guidance about how to use the IVR.

"Building apps using a traditional software development life cycle is fraught with risk and not delivering what customers typically want," Kelly says. "What we build is the framework for a nontechnical user to configure those apps to deliver a personalized and dynamic customer experience."

Hitchcock also features other enhancements, which have already been made available to customers on SpeechStorm's software-as-a-service platform. The improvements include automatic alerting, customer experience monitoring, and better management of historic data.

"We have a range of over forty prebuilt self-service applications for financial services, telecom operators, and enterprises including identification, balance inquiries, payments, store locators, customer and employee surveys, transaction listing, ordering new products, etc.," Kelly says. "Each of these has a predefined business process flow and integration points (where required to get data from other systems), which can be configured to meet an organization's exact needs without coding. Our applications typically require seventy percent less effort than traditional development, can be deployed four to five times faster, enable instant changes, and put business users in total control of the customer experience."

The persona is the company's first launch this year, following up on last year's releases, which the company has named after famous movie directors; those releases were Eastwood, Fellini, and Godard.

Kelly believes that personas will gain in popularity in the future.

"We think personas have huge potential," he says. "In an increasingly commoditized business environment—where customers have increasing numbers of choices as to where to buy goods and services—customer service is often the only remaining differentiator. Research consistently shows that organizations providing a better customer experience outperform both the market and their competitors. Personas provide an effective and very powerful way of meeting the needs of different customer segments in a more personalized way. Effective use of personas will enable organizations to reduce call handling and waiting times, improve customer experiences and engender greater brand loyalty."

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