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Speech Recognition has few takers in Contact Centres!

Recent survey conducted by Contact Centre Helper The UK’s most popular contact centre Magazine, has found that only 10% contact centres use speech recognition in their IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) System! This is something I have always maintained that DTMF IVR has advantages over speech recognition.

Though, contact centre Helper is a UK based magazine and had 425 responses, I feel, this is surely indicative of usage of speech recognition in IVR.

Though, in India, it is practically very difficult to implement speech recognition due to large number of languages, accents among its large population. Apart from different accents, poor telephone network or mobile phone quality is also responsible which result in wrong recognition of speeches. The background noise is also responsible for poor performance by speech recognition.

Apart from above technical reasons, I have met many people who simply does not like to speak to a machine and they don’t trust machines to understand their problems! Most of the people whom I met and discussed about speech recognition in IVR or voice portal, opined that use of DTMF or Telephone keypress is much faster than speech recognition! Most probably, that may be reason why voice portals in India use speech recognition where caller is charged per minute!

I also think, the accuracy of speech recognition may be higher in United States of America where English is spoken with more or less same accent as well as comparatively little slower than that of in United Kingdom or India.

Speech recognition provides ease of selecting a menu option while dialing to IVR from a mobile phone, it may also slow down the menu selection process. But with speaker phone facility in almost every mobile phone, pressing keys while listening to IVR menu has become convenient. So, this argument in favour of speech recognition has also become weaker ow a days.

So, most probably, till now, use of DTMF is best option for any IVR deployment in contact centres as well as in any other industry.

Here is the link to the Survey Report by Contact Centre Helper.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Ravi March 2, 2012, 5:10 am

    Perhaps you are not aware of open speech. I don’t think multiplicity of language and speed of speaking is even an issue. As you are aware, we are now in the Asian century and Chinese support is a must. I have implemeted open speech in government and telco organisations and its just a matter of time. Some education is also required. The main driver seems to be improvement in customer experience.

  • Uttam Pegu March 2, 2012, 9:48 am

    Hi Ravi,
    Thanks for writing in! As for the speech recognition in India, I tried to check train status in India by dialing in IVR which had speech recognition, where one has to speak the name of the train or train number, most of the time it failed to recognise the name of the train I spoke! Though while speaking the train numbers, its success rate was higher!

    If you have any installation in India where I can dial in and check ? It would be great help to change my opinion on speech recognition in IVR in India!

  • arthi March 9, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Its obviously that we are now entering the asia century, but what do you mean with open speech government? In Countries like China or even India its strange to speak for “open speech”.

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