Nuance on Monday said that Jetstar, an Australian airline, is using its Nina Web virtual assistant technology to deliver voice-enabled customer service through its Web site.
Nina is akin to Apple's Siri with an enterprise twist. Nina uses natural language understanding technology to create conversational customer service. On the Web, voice isn't the primary channel---keyboard and mouse is for the most part---but Nuance is betting it can make headway by targeting verticals.
Jetstar is using Nina Web to create a virtual assistant called Ask Jess. Jess uses Nina Web, hosted by Nuance, to get information on booking, baggage and seating. Ask Jess was also combined with live chat so it can route help issues to humans.
In the first five days with Nina Web, Jetstar said its assistant answered 77 percent of all requests. Jetstar is rolling out the technology in Australia first with plans for New Zealand and Singapore in early 2014. Japanese and Chinese versions are also planned.
For Nuance, Jetstar is an avenue to target more airlines. Brett Beranek, solutions manager for Nina at Nuance, said the company is in discussions with numerous airlines. "These Web sites have a lot of questions around the booking process," said Beranek.
A recent Nuance survey found that 58 percent of consumers can't resolve their issues on the Web despite their best efforts. Seventy one percent of consumers would use a virtual assistant on the Web if it could get them the right answers.
Nina Web is already being used by Michelin and Windstream to name a few.
In an interview, Beranek said Nina's most common usage is via mobile devices, but increasingly the Web will need virtual assistants. PCs and laptops could also start integrating microphones and other technologies to increase the usage of voice.