Misnavigation not solved by speech-driven menus

Speech recognition can be awesome

Speech recognition is a technology that can do amazing things. For example, you can watch an Android app translate from one language to another in real time here.

… or silly

Unfortunately, its use in phone menus is not quite as stellar. In fact, it some cases it seems counter-productive.  For example, when you replace “press 1 for billing” with “for billing say ‘billing’.” It’s almost comical.

Give us some credit, please

Another example: The system that tries to seem advanced by claiming it can digest regular English: “Tell me what you want to do.” This is usually followed by “you can say ‘billing’ or ‘technical support’”. Let’s give callers some credit: they know that there are only a few different types of agents at the call center, so there are really only a few choices to make. There is no point in getting chatty with the auto-attendant.

Are you really decreasing the burden on the caller by replacing “press 1 for billing” with “tell me what you want to do?”. In the latter case, the caller now has to think about what kind of phrase the system might be expecting.

Misnavigation pains continue

For these reasons, we have found – anecdotally, at least – that speech-driven menus fare no better at reducing misnavigation compared to tone-based menus. Although there are cases where speech recognition really shines (directory assistance is a great example), the basic call-routing role is not one of them.

It’s not a rare day that I hear someone walking in the street on the phone with customer service … screaming into their phone: ‘AGENT, AGENT, AGENT!’ … it’s an automated attendant at the other end of the line … [which] we have come to begrudgingly accept as a fact of life.

– Blake Landau, editor of CustomerManagementIQ