Telstra lands Centrelink speech deal

Telstra has won an AU$185 million, five-year deal to manage the voice services of Australia's social security agency Centrelink, the Department of Family and Community Services and rehabilitation agency CRS Australia.In a statement issued today, the Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, said the deal would include expansion of Centrelink's speech recognition services, the introduction of so-called "smart outbound dialling systems" and development of mobile text services.

Telstra has won an AU$185 million, five-year deal to manage the voice services of Australia's social security agency Centrelink, the Department of Family and Community Services and rehabilitation agency CRS Australia.

In a statement issued today, the Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, said the deal would include expansion of Centrelink's speech recognition services, the introduction of so-called "smart outbound dialling systems" and development of mobile text services.

Hockey indicated the speech recognition services would be used to process simple queries from customers, "while ... giving customer service officers more time to manage more complex enquiries".

Telstra will manage more than 1,000 sites nationwide, including the Centrelink Call Network call centre operation.

The introduction of smart outbound dialling systems -- which automatically dial numbers from a list on behalf of an agent -- is expected to allow Centrelink to slash the more than 94 million letters it sends out each year.

Hockey claimed short-message service trials had proven "very popular" with customers and said further development of the medium "may better serve specific groups like students and jobseekers".

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