T&D World Magazine

Study Gives Benchmark Rankings for 40 Utilities’ IVR, ASR Menus

Market Strategies, Inc. has published a comparative benchmarking study on interactive voice response (IVR) and automated speech recognition (ASR) menus and systems for energy utilities. The study provides benchmark rankings and ratings for 40 energy utilities’ IVR and ASR menus and systems (gas, electric, combination), which are measured on functionality, usability and aesthetics. Also, for the first time, these ratings will be compared to MSI’s recently completed IVR benchmarking for banks, credit cards and auto finance companies.

“The uniqueness of this study is that it benchmarks utilities on how well they achieve a balance between having internally focused functional efficiency and customer-focused user attributes,” says Mark Camack, Market Strategies’ vice president and IVR-ASR practice lead. “The large majority of individual attributes rated in this study are based upon objective criteria established by MSI’s system evaluators, who are veterans of call centers and utilities, and as market researchers who have interacted with thousands of callers to multiple industries on this topic.”

Camack also noted, “This year, we’re excited about the addition of the financial services sector as a benchmark of comparison for energy utilities, since many of these companies are often perceived to be best-in-class in customer service and self-service.” He added, “A major new discussion this year will revolve around speech recognition, which is a topic of great interest to energy utilities, and one fraught with implementation and usability design flaws. An energy company is not a bank when it comes to the need to serve…public safety is paramount, and speech recognition systems must always work.”

The study includes “best-in-class” system attributes and recommendations for system enhancements in areas such as Welcome Greetings, Language and Business/Residential Splits, Account Identification, Menu Structure and System Navigation, as well as solutions for reducing average call time and system bypass. The 2006 study will also discuss “call shedding” to the Internet — that is, prompting callers to self-service options on the Web — and first call resolution or “call containment” best practices, along with privacy trends.

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