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February 10, 2016 • 4 minute read

Why (and How) the Speech Industry Needs to Change

Increasingly, we are living in a customer-obsessed business environment. In fact, some analysts have even gone so far as to call customer experience one of the top critical success factors determining which businesses will win and fail in 2016 and beyond. With that, more and more companies are shifting focus to address how customer care interactions are viewed and handled, and it’s easy to see why: ignoring customer care interactions can lead to significant losses in terms of not only customers, but also revenue and positive word of mouth.

At Interactions, we see speech and natural language as fundamental, business-enabling technologies that deliver significant business value and gains in customer experience. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these technologies has stagnated as a result of outdated business practices and an industry that has failed to keep up with the rapid evolution of speech technology.

The fact is this: companies can’t deliver on their goal of making customer care a defining competitive differentiator with yesterday’s speech technology. To truly enable business success in customer care, some fundamental changes need to happen within the speech industry to make speech and natural language technologies readily available for widespread enterprise use. The industry needs to shift focus to making speech interfaces useful for the business, while delighting the customer in the process.

Customer Needs Should be Met Easily, on Any Channel at Any Time

Intelligent, multichannel Virtual Assistant solutions need to be an integrated part of the customer care journey. Traditional IVR solutions, although an enabling commoditized necessity for many businesses, ultimately stifle interactions by forcing customers down long menu trees. This results in high levels of customer frustration. In fact, we recently conducted a study that uncovered that only 3% of customers actually enjoy using an IVR. Businesses shouldn’t have to accept the status quo if it means delivering a poor customer care experience; the technology companies select should provide a flexible path forward, enabling natural conversations and conforming to the customer instead of the other way around.

Speech and Language Technology Should be Accessible and Affordable

Speech and natural language technology has traditionally been priced outside of what is attainable for widespread use. This kind of business model is problematic and oppressive, since speech and language technology enable considerable business gains and improvements in customer experience and satisfaction. What the industry needs, instead, is flexible and affordable pricing that allows businesses to develop the speech applications for the entire enterprise that they need and that their customers demand.

ASR Should Provide a Foundational, Flexible Path Forward for Future Expansion

Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology is often the first encounter consumers have with a business through an IVR application. This technology is central to the existing customer care strategy of many businesses. Unfortunately, many traditional IVR solutions restrict future expansion and force organizations to layer specialized solutions for evolving communication channels such as web or mobile, ultimately driving up implementation complexity and cost. For many enterprises, upgrading the foundational IVR structure that is in place today is the first step forward toward a unified customer care strategy. Foundational ASR technology should be available on a streamlined platform that enables a flexible path forward for the future and delivers a consistent, unified customer experience today.

In order to deliver the kind of truly connected, multichannel customer care experience that consumers demand, businesses need intelligent, flexible and affordable solutions when it comes to speech and language technology. In order to provide this, the speech industry needs to stop relying on the status quo and incremental enhancements, and instead start driving the kind of transformational change that organizations need and their customers deserve.

That’s why Interactions is focused on putting an end to the speech industry’s dated technology and business practices to help elevate customer experiences – beginning with voice applications to fix the issues customers are experiencing today, while also providing a flexible path forward to expand to other customer care solutions in the future. Read more about how Interactions is driving innovation within the speech industry.

Want to learn more? Let’s talk.