SpeechCycle helps companies act smarter

by Bruce Kasanoff on May 18, 2011

“While the adoption of smartphones continues to grow exponentially and the emergence of new and personalized customer care mobile applications comes into the mainstream, vendors need to make sure they design and build applications that are at least as smart as the phones that host them.”

That’s what SpeechCycle CTO, Roberto Pieraccini, wrote in Mashable recently. I spoke with Roberto a few months back, and was impressed with the way his firm allows customers to communicate intelligently with a firm’s systems.

For example, SpeechCycle allows a cable customer to have the cable system ping his set-top box, potentially fixing the problem without ever involving a human rep.

Roberto says smart firms are moving customer care from only verbal to speech and visual and tactile. He explains that care tailored for smartphones is intrinsically multimodal: touch, text, and talk (T3).

He believes that firms are now more interested in customer experience than cost savings. This is the reverse of what was true ten years ago. He observes that the infrastructure of many customer service operations is totally inadequate and says, “The bill I get at home is different by a few cents from the one I get online. This is because the two systems have two different infrastructures. It’s totally unacceptable.”

Alan Pan, SVP of Marketing at SpeechCycle, joined us and explained, “We play right at the front end where the customer has a question. Our natural language understanding lets us grasp the customer’s intent. We then map this to our client’s resources.”

He continued, “We’re now working on products that will move IVR menus onto your smartphone. Customers will no longer have to navigate menus verbally.”

In other words, you won’t have to listen while an automated voice drones on, “Press 32 if your house number is even but your phone number ends with an odd number.”

Roberto jumped in. “Nicholas Carr (author of The Shallows) is right. Our attention span is completely different. Customers don’t have the patience.”

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