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Self-service applications are on the rise in just about every industry. Customers rarely tolerate anything less than 24/7 access to their information. Speech makes it easier and sometimes faster for customers to get to that information. This can be accomplished using either telephony or multimodal applications.
Telephony applications are great for automating call center functionality. They generally result in increased customer satisfaction and lower costs. If designed properly, a telephony application can reduce the number of telephone transfers or menu layers that a customer must navigate. Telephony applications can also reduce the hold time for customers because they will not have to wait on the availability of a limited number of customer service agents. Best of all, you can be sure that the customer is always treated courteously. You do not have to worry about the customer reaching a rude or untrained customer service agent.
Multimodal applications offer the better of two worlds. They increase customer satisfaction by allowing customers to select the input method that works best for them. For applications that execute on small devices like a PDA or a smartphone, being able to swap between speech and GUI access can speed access time.
Both multimodal and telephony applications can automate certain processes. For instance, an information services department can use a speech-based application to reset passwords, access e-mail, or customer contact information.
Hands-free access is not only useful for busy remote workers, but can be vital to handicapped individuals. Best of all, mobile workers are not limited to using only stylus pens when entering data.
The benefits of speech processing are numerous, especially for businesses. Hardware and software limitations that once hindered the technology are being lowered or removed everyday. Products like Microsoft Speech Server will increase the number of developers with the skills to build these types of applications. As companies search for innovative ways to increase customer satisfaction and decrease costs, speech-based applications should become more and more common.
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