TalkTalk rings in the changes as speech recognition leads to faster, better calls

In this guest post contributed by Sarah Bramwell, a representative from Nuance customer, TalkTalk, Sarah discusses the UK company’s adoption of natural language understanding IVR in the call center. Sarah opens up about why an updated system was necessary for TalkTalk’s customers and the benefits they’ve experienced since implementation.

If there’s one thing people really hate about contacting big companies, it’s having to navigate through telephone menu systems.

Calls to phone menu systems usually involve listening to a recorded voice as it slowly dictates a list of options. Once you choose an option, the voice lists another series of options, and on and on as the system decides which customer contact centre to route your call through to.

We knew customers found these menus tedious and time consuming, and that it was an inefficient system, both for customers and for TalkTalk, because telephone menu systems can only offer four or five options, but callers can have lots of different reasons for contacting us.

Here at TalkTalk we handle tens of thousands of calls from customers and people interested in joining us every day. They call to ask about products or services, upgrade or seek technical advice. The success of YouView from TalkTalk, Britain’s fastest growing TV service, and TalkTalk Mobile, means we have more customers than ever before, looking for a quick and efficient way to contact us.

We had already made the telephone menu system as fast and straightforward as possible, gaining industry recognition, and decided to look for a better way of handling customer calls.

The solution was voice recognition software, which has come a long way over the years. We worked with Nuance to introduce a natural language IVR (interactive voice response) solution, which in August 2013 replaced most of the telephone menu options.

Now people can call TalkTalk, enter their home phone number, and simply tell us in their own words what they are calling about. The software is extremely sophisticated and can understand accents from across Britain, and either route callers through to a customer contact centre or offer advice about fixing common problems themselves, saving customers’ time.

There are more than 500 unique automated call paths, so customers are far more likely to get the information they need straight away, or to be routed through to somebody who can help them, leading to happier customers and lower costs.

The system has allowed us to gain great insight to be used by Analytics, allowing TalkTalk to identify trends that are driving customer calls, and quickly identify any potential opportunities for introducing customers to new services that could help them.

The system has already increased overall customer satisfaction with TalkTalk, and reduced the number of calls being transferred to customer contact centres. Customer time spent in the new system is 23% shorter and, best of all, the speech recognition is 94% accurate.

The system has been so successful, there are plans to now roll this out to other areas in the business and build and enhance the functionality.

Check out the full case study to understand how TalkTalk dramatically reduced call centre costs.

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TalkTalk saves £3m and reduces call durations by 23% in just three months

Download the case study to learn how TalkTalk dramatically reduced call centre costs

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About Sarah Bramwell

Sarah Bramwell joined TalkTalk in 2004, and is Head of IVR and Telephony across the group. She has 18 years of experience in contact centre management and customer experience, pushing the boundaries to provide innovative and transformational solutions in a dynamic environment.