• February 3, 2004
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Nuance's Speech Splash

To provide a speech recognition product optimized for specific industries and applications, and to facilitate voice authentication processes, Nuance today released its Nuance 8.5 and Nuance Verifier 3.5, respectively. Automating customer interactions using voice has become critical for companies that want to remain competitive. Speech recognition solutions can deliver substantial business benefits, including cost savings and improved customer service, according to Tom Pringle, an analyst at Datamonitor. To further these efforts Nuance has spent the past two years in the lab, fine-tuning the performance of its Nuance 8.0 voice recognition product, released more than two years ago. Engineers focused on tweaking the system to better understand the terms and expressions used in various industries, including financial, retail banking, airline, transport, and telecommunications. The net result of these efforts yielded a 50 percent reduction in error rates out of the box for North American English systems, compared to Nuance 8.0, according to company executives. The accuracy ratings of version 8.5 improved 1.5 percent to 98.5 percent over its predecessor. "That's a significant change in terms of product performance," says Nuance Senior Product Marketing Manager John Froman. He adds that this small improvement in increased automation capabilities can result in cost savings of between $2 million to $10 million per year, depending on application type and call volume. Additional features include analysis and tuning tools, for better accuracy and application performance. The optimization tools incorporate call-log data and transcribed data to enable enhanced tuning of an application. The Nuance Analyze and Nuance Tune optimization tools enable companies to reduce the time and costs associated with tuning by as much as 50 percent, and also cut development and deployment times, according to Froman. Nuance Analyze can conduct performance assessments and generate speech metric-related reports for such concerns as hot spots, latency, call volume, and accuracy. Nuance Tune can take those reports and enable various simulations testing to verify that changes to the system will have the desired effects prior to going live. In an effort to bolster security measures and hasten existing customer authentication processes, Nuance also unveiled its latest voice authentication software, Nuance Verifier 3.5. New capabilities of this version boost performance across wireless, hand-free, and landline phones. The biometric technology identifies individuals much like fingerprints do. A caller must enroll in the system once so the voiceprint is captured. When a customer calls after that his words will be compared to the voiceprint for acceptance. The enrollment takes about 15 seconds, but authentication efforts after that can be less than one second, which pales in comparison to a live agent on average taking 40 seconds to verify things like address and mother's maiden name, according to Regina Carriere, senior product marketing manager at Nuance. The voice authentication software has come a long way since it was developed in 1998. Already, Nuance Verifier processes more than 150 million secure calls annually for applications like account management, field service automation, SFA, and caller PIN replacement and reset. Both products, Nuance 8.5 and Nuance Verifier 3.5, are currently available for the Windows 2000 and Sparc Solaris operating systems, and will be available for Intel Solaris next month.
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