Telstra: Talk to the hand

Telstra will extend voice recognition technology to its sales environment, despite ongoing teething problems with its Directory Assistance experiment.

Telstra will extend voice recognition technology to its sales environment, despite ongoing teething problems with its Directory Assistance experiment.

AUSTRALIA (ZDNet Australia) - Voice recognition services for Telstra Directory Assistance commenced in December with the jury still out on whether customers prefer to speak to a computer or an operator when seeking a telephone number.

Telstra concedes that customers who dial in for a listing believe the voice recognition service has failed if they are transferred to a 'live' operator, which occurs in 90 percent of cases.

The telco says it's happy with the computerised response rate so far, given that the technology is designed to recognises 2,000 of the country's most frequently used phone numbers from a total listing of 10 million.

"Some customers think that if they get put through to an operator, the service has failed," said Telstra's Chief of Consumer Sales, Judy Slatyer.

"Our customer feedback indicates that our customers require more information about what the voice recognition service is designed to do," she said.

Telstra will change the directory's opening message to inform customers that the system uses voice recognition to provide customers only with the more frequently called numbers. An operator will assist with all other numbers.

In order to gather more customer feedback and to enhance the accuracy of the service, the telco has commenced a trial of voice recognition technology on its 132200 Consumer Sales line as part of a limited trial.

Eventually, it expects the full service to include voice-generated information on broadband, call pricing information and telephone account balances.

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