Aspect Communications and Nuance
Communications today announced that Royal Mail has dramatically reduced call handling costs for its Track & Trace (T&T) letter and packet tracking
service by investing in an Aspect speech portal.
The speech portal currently handles around 80,000 enquiries a month, putting it on track to handle a million calls in its first year of operation. This represents around half of all customer calls to the T&T service. By automating a million calls a year that were previously handled by Customer
Service Advisors, the speech portal is expected to reduce T&T call handling costs by around 25%.
The speech portal has also allowed Royal Mail to bolster other areas of its customer service operation, so improving overall customer service levels. By re-deploying a third of its T&T Customer Service Advisors to other campaigns, it has: significantly increased the number of advisors handling general customer service calls such as Redirections; set up a dedicated call handling team for Postcode enquiries; and increased the number of Advisors handling email queries (mainly received via its web site).
The Royal Mail is committed to maintaining high service levels however customers choose to contact them (i.e. via email or phone) and it is
transforming existing customer service centres into full multi channel contact centres as needs dictate. In the six months since the speech portal
was installed, the number of emailed customer service requests has more than doubled.
Track and Trace service customers have also benefited from the speech portal being accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How it Works
The T&T service enables members of the public and business customers to find out the delivery status of letters and small parcels sent via Royal Mail's Special Delivery services both domestically and internationally (for example, whether items are being processed at the initial mail processing
centre, in transit, being held for collection - as well as the time and date that items were delivered).
T&T was first introduced as a 'live Advisor' service in 1993 and extended in the late 90s when a self-service web version was introduced. The new speech portal bolts on to these T&T web servers, making use of the same database resources.
To find out the delivery status of Special Delivery items using the speech portal, customers dial the T&T service on a local rate 0845 number that can
be found on all receipts. An automated greeting asks them to speak a unique thirteen digit alphanumeric number printed on their receipts. This tracking number is then passed to the T&T web interface, which assesses delivery status and reads back status details to customers.
The user friendly system also provides help to callers. At the end of each tracking enquiry it asks "Would you like to hear that information again" or "If you want to speak to an advisor, say 'Advisor'". There is also a built in 'confidence check'. If the system has a high degree of confidence that it has recognised the caller response, it will move onto the next step. If
not, it will say 'I think you said xxxxx' or 'I didn't get that, could you please repeat".
Only an estimated 10% of calls are transferred to live agents because callers wish to avoid the Self Service system.
The speech portal was designed and implemented by Aspect Communications and
uses version 6.0 of Aspect's Customer Self Service (CSS) software as well as natural language speech recognition technology from Nuance Communications. CSS software enables customers to communicate with companies and complete complex transactions without the need for live assistance. It runs on open systems and links to a wide range of other CRM (customer relationship management) databases and platforms for information retrieval.
"It's been a huge success," commented Andy Fergusson, Prism Alliance, who was Project Manager for the Royal Mail speech portal project. "We planned that around 40% of calls could be automated using a speech portal and the
actual figure has been even higher. Aspect and Nuance worked hard to understand our business objectives and delivered the service efficiently and
"Our customers are always seeking ways of improving the efficiency of their Contact Centres, particularly given the current economic climate," said Paul Tollan, Managing Director of Aspect Communications UK. "Most customers
recognise, however, that a balance exists between operational efficiency and maintaining their reputation, brand and good customer service.
Well-designed speech-driven IVR solutions, such as the one recently implemented at Royal Mail, deliver this balance to the mutual benefit of the
organisation and its customers."
Nick Applegarth, MD EMEA, Nuance said: "For contact centres, speech is the next natural step. It makes a huge, positive difference to customer
experience as well as return on investment. Companies running contact centres will find themselves left behind unless they begin to realise the power of speech recognition."
About Aspect Communications
Aspect Communications Corporation is the leading provider of business communications solutions that help companies improve customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs, gather market intelligence and increase revenue.
Aspect is a trusted mission-critical partner with over two-thirds of the Fortune 50, daily managing more than 3 million customer sales and service
professionals worldwide. Aspect is the only company that provides the mission-critical software platform, development environment and applications that seamlessly integrate voice-over-IP, traditional telephony, e-mail, voicemail, Web, fax and wireless business communications, while guaranteeing investment protection in a company's front-office, back-office, Internet and
telephony infrastructures. Aspect's leadership in business communications solutions is based on more than 17 years of experience and over 8,000
implementations deployed worldwide. The company is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices around the world as well as an extensive global network of systems integrators, independent software vendors and
distribution partners. Aspect's UK offices are in Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex and can be reached on 0800 ASPECT (i.e. 0800 277328).
Nuance is the speech expert. Nuance's speech software solutions enable automated access to everything from account balances to flight information, email reading to voice activated dialing - using nothing more than the power
of voice and an ordinary phone. In markets around the world, leading enterprises and telecommunications carriers - including British Airways, Nomura Securities, OnStar, Sprint PCS, United Parcel Service, Vodafone, and many more - work with Nuance to reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction and retention, create new sources of revenue and improve security. Nuance is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif. and has offices around the world. For more information, visit www.nuance.com or call 020 7386 1579.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: All statements in this release that involve Aspect's forecasts, beliefs, projections,
expectations, strategies and intentions are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to Aspect at the time of this release, are not guarantees of future results; rather, they are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in this release. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the uncertainty of demand for Aspect products; the
anticipated customer benefits from Aspect products; increased competition and technological changes in the markets in which Aspect competes; Aspect's abilities to manage growth; intense competition for qualified employees; and other risks detailed from time to time in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Aspect's annual report on Form 10-K and Aspect's quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Aspect assumes no
obligation to update information concerning its expectations.
Aspect, the Aspect logo and the phrases and marks relating to other Aspect products and services discussed in this press release constitute one or both of the following: (1) registered trademarks and/or service marks of Aspect Communications Corporation in the United States and/or other countries or (2) intellectual property subject to protection under common law principles. All other names and marks mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners.
For further information please contact:
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