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Help Desk Software - Self Service
The voice that answers the customer service line may sound like a person, have a name like a person and react like a person, but may not actually be a person at all. With the advent of automatic speech recognition technologies, text to speech, and voice recognition software, a new age in customer service was effectively originated. In many cases, contact centers no longer require agent assistance to provide certain basic customer service. Most questions can be answered and/or routed by software without any human intervention at all. Todays cost-sensitive markets have made self-service contact centers especially desirable. And, despite potentially pricey setup costs, self-service systems are definitely cost-effective over time.

Everyone is familiar by now with telephone menu systems that ascertain customer needs and route calls to the appropriate party, be it electronic or human. Even though customers expect these types of systems and use them with some regularity, it is important to keep basic business strategies in mind when designing and implementing a new system. After all, customers who will be using the new system will have the same needs as they did previously with an agent-assisted system. For example, customers want to have their questions answered quickly, without confusion, and without having to wade through industry specific jargon.

Menu design is a critical issue in designing and implementing a self-service system. Menus must be clear, concise and user-friendly. There should be no more than three or four menus for each type of self-service transaction, and no more than four choices per menu. Options should be grouped and choices kept short. The wording used should echo that found in conversation, without industry-specific terminology. Order status inquiries, account information and bill payment are the most common types of self-service transactions.

However, the types of possible self-service transactions are expanding rapidly due to speech recognition and text-to speech applications that are capable of handling far more complex interactions than touch tone applications. And, when implementing any types of voice technology transactions, it is important for customer satisfaction to make the voices sound human rather than robotic. Experts suggest giving the organizations voice a name. Other suggestions include thinking of real people conversing when writing and programming for the voice application. Further, listening to real agent-assisted calls can be invaluable in learning how customers phrase their requests. It is important to account for variations in language and to consider all of the various ways a request could be stated.

In some cases, self-service technologies are being used to provide customer information that wouldotherwise have to be provided by an agent. For example in at least one city, residents can obtain information about things like garbage collection schedules by entering a postal code or entering a license plate number to ascertain where a vehicle was towed. Information is retrieved from the city website, then connected to a speech synthesizer which ultimately relays the information to the caller.

The ability of these systems to respond dynamically to human questions is a powerful tool in the self-service technologies arsenal. However, another key issue is determining which types of inquiries these types of systems best handle. More complex types of questions may need to be routed to live agents. However, for basic inquires, self-service voice systems and software is appropriate and saves the company money.

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