Voice-recognition technology comes to CRM

Voice-recognition technology comes to CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor Aspect Communications this week added voice-recognition technology to a self-service application that lets customers process transactions by telephone.

Aspect said the self-service software can now identify customers by their "voiceprints," eliminating the need for them to enter personal identification numbers or other passwords to access account information or pay bills. The voice-recognition technology, developed by Nuance Communications, is included in Version 6.0 of Aspect's Customer Self-Service tool.

Sheila McGee-Smith, a CRM analyst, said the voice-recognition feature wouldn't have been that noteworthy prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. But now, banks and other security-conscious companies may "take a closer look at this than they might have" otherwise, she said.

Large CRM players such as Siebel Systems don't offer voice-recognition capabilities with their software at this point, McGee-Smith said. An official at Siebel confirmed that its voice-activated self-service application can't authenticate users by their voice patterns.

McGee-Smith noted that InterVoice-Brite does support voice recognition as part of the interactive voice response technology it sells. But Aspect also provides call center, e-mail and other CRM-related functions with its software, she said.

Daniel Reagan, vice president of technology at Navitaire, said the new voice-recognition tool could make self-service applications easier to use. "I think [customers] would welcome a system where you use your own voice," he said. "Certainly, things that can't be stolen are beneficial."

Navitaire, an application service provider that has contracts with about 40 airlines, uses Aspect's applications to let corporate users do things such as book flights. Currently, Navitaire relies on personal ID numbers and other traditional authentication procedures to verify the identities of customers, Reagan said.

He added that he hasn't investigated what it would cost to install Aspect's new software or whether Navitaire's IT infrastructure would have to be upgraded to support the voice-recognition technology.

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