[LINK] IVR ?
Mon, 22 Jan 2001 11:00:20 +1000
IVR uses touch pad number entry - the computer speaks, you respond via the
Speech recognition eliminates the keypad - computer and customer speak.
General interest journos tend to use the two interchangably.
IVR is NOT unreliable -- that is spin-doctoring from speech recognition
vendors. The keypad is highly reliable; and it has the advantage - glossed
over in SR stories - of creating a digital audit trail. SR systems either
ignore the audit trail (*very* dangerous for financial applications), or
they need another layer of technology to prove what happened (more expensive
than people think).
Looking at this story, it is absolutely clear that the journalist doesn't
know sugar from shingles. Some quotes:
>the first company in Victoria and the second in Australia to introduce
>voice recognition technology
Absolute nonsense; regurgitated from the press release and completely
unsubstantiated; and the wrong interpretation of the acronym. Not a good
>IVR has a reputation for being unreliable.
>Transurban had been testing IVR for three months, and it would probably be
>working by March.
>a computer voice will ask the motorist what kind of product is required,
>ask the customer to nominate the day of travel, and take credit card
>numbers and account details over the phone. It will process details
This collection gives a flavour of how badly this has been done. I'm happy
to offer a Technology 101 for journalists, but for the attitude that "good
journalism doesn't need specialist knowledge".
Now. If this is the "second in Australia" - a normal spin-doctor claim -
then I guess it's speech recognition, because that's what's being PR-ed to
the max by VeCommerce right now. But the claim that the US is "way ahead" is
just fluff. One of the most advanced companies in speech recognition is
Syrinx Speech Systems - and they're a ten-year-old local outfit, much of
whose income is derived from license fees to US-based vendors.
However, as I said, I would not trust my weight to this story: it's a
mishmash in which the author is tossing around acronyms he doesn't
From: Jan Whitaker [mailto:jwhit@PrimeNet.Com]
Sent: Monday, 22 January 2001 8:26
Subject: [LINK] IVR ?
Does anyone know if IVR in these 'call centre' services is actually
recognising voices or using touch pad number entry? Why would anyone use a
dodgy voice technology over a proven touch pad interface?
Talking computer to take its own
By SUSHI DAS
Monday 22 January 2001
Motorists will be able to buy City Link day
passes or top up their accounts through a
computer-phone link when the tollway's owner introduces
technology in March to reduce pressure on its call
Transurban is expected to become the first company in
the second in Australia to introduce interactive voice
technology to sell City Link products. IVR has a
reputation for being
Managing director Kim Edwards said Transurban had been
IVR for three months, and it would probably be working
Under the new system, a computer voice will ask the
kind of product is required, ask the customer to
nominate the day of
travel, and take credit card numbers and account details
phone. It will process details automatically.
Motorists wanting to speak to a person to make a
transaction will be
able to ring the City Link call centre as usual.
"They have had this in the United States for five years,
but there's only
one company in Australia I think that's got the
and that's Tabcorp in Queensland," Mr Edwards said."It
will save us
call-centre money but, more importantly, it will
Transurban came under fire from the State Government
when the company failed to employ enough staff to handle
the flood of
calls from motorists after the Burnley tunnel opening.
Transurban admitted its call centre had been overloaded
20,000 calls a day, causing anger and frustration for
drivers trying to
pay by phone. It usually takes about 50,000 calls a week.
This is the second time in two years that Transurban's
call centre has
been unable to manage calls from the public.
Transurban took over control of customer service
functions from its
contractors, Translink Operations, after The Age
revealed last year
that the company subcontracted to run the call centre
accounts and overcharged customers.
The company, Data Connection, was dropped in March and
by UCMF, which is running Transurban's call centre.
Since the call chaos in December last year, Transurban
the number of people employed to handle calls.
Mr Edwards said customers wanting day passes were
priority, while customers wanting to speak to an
operator were still
experiencing delays, which would probably continue until
The RACV welcomed the use of IVR to handle calls, but
would take a wait-and-see approach before endorsing it.
"It certainly sounds like state-of-the-art technology,"
Ogden said. "Voice recognition is getting better and
better all the time.
"As to whether we could endorse it, we will have to look
"Full marks to them for trying. I really hope it works
certainly need to provide a better service for their
members over the