Sabio Research: U.K. Businesses Missing Out on Benefits of Speech-Enabled Self-Service


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Survey finds that organisations are now ready to address this, with 20 per cent planning to implement speech-based solutions over the next 12 months

According to Sabio, the innovative contact centre services company, the majority of UK businesses are missing out on the potential that speech-enabled self-service technology has for improving the overall customer contact experience. Following an independent research programme conducted this summer, Sabio found that over half the self-service solutions currently deployed are being used just to support basic internal business processes, and that too little consideration has been given to how the latest speech-enabled solutions can be used to deliver benefits for customers.

In a research programme that also looked into the growing focus that organisations are placing on the Customer Experience, and the increasing importance of the contact centre within the wider organisation, Sabio found that while 22 per cent of those surveyed were using traditional touch tone IVR systems in their business, only 18 per cent had actually deployed some form of speech-enabled solution.

Commenting on the findings, Sabio Director Adam Faulkner said: “there seems to be a clear divide between the older IVR systems that organisations typically installed to streamline their own internal processes, and newer speech-enabled solutions that can work for both the customer and businesses alike. Businesses are missing an opportunity if they let the negative publicity associated with touch-tone systems stop them from realising the benefits that self-service can deliver.

“The good news is that 20 per cent of the contact centre managers that we talked to indicated that they were planning to further invest in their self-service and speech-based applications during the next year. For these organisations, we would encourage them to focus on building customer service applications that are designed around caller needs,” he continued. “Our research showed that many businesses were hesitant about self-service because of the stigma associated with frustrating IVR systems and a determination to always offer support through live agents. The reality, however, is that many customers would far rather engage with a correctly-designed self-service solution when it comes to applications such as confirming meter readings, making payments, registering credit cards or activating new mobile phones.”

According to the companies surveyed, the most successful self-service applications are those that provide clear caller benefits such as increased security, more privacy, greater convenience or a better value service. In addition to delivering customer benefits, self-service applications can also help in supporting corporate objectives around providing a consistent high quality customer service and the projection of the corporate image that is promoted through other marketing channels.

Adam Faulkner believes that for organisations looking to optimise their contact centre performance, speech-enabled self-service is one of the low-hanging fruits that can provide a quick return. ³This latest research shows that there is a significant number of businesses that are ready to commit to speech-enabled projects over the next 12 months. Natural language speech recognition technology is now robust and ready, while open standards have helped to drive down costs. We believe that organisations that present speech applications that are easy to use and actually do what the customer wants can successfully differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace.²

Sabio is one of the few contact centre specialists to offer the key elements essential for successful speech applications ­ a specialist, user-centred speech design approach based on conversational techniques, the right persona and customer engagement strategies, business and systems integration skills, and the latest open standards-based technologies from leading organisations.

Sabio’s Speech Research is part of an ongoing market engagement programme conducted for Sabio by Clarify. The research was conducted during July and August, involved senior level discussions with contact centre management in over 50 different UK organisations.

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