Two Best Practices for Improving Speech Recognition

In my last blog, Understanding Speech Recognition Limitations, I shared some inherent limitations of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). While these limitations exist, in this blog, I’d like to focus on how companies can maximize the performance of ASR. The following are two best practices that I’ve found to be especially impactful.

Best Practice #1: Include usability testing in your project plan. Once you feel your application is tested and ready for production, work with non-project team members to test it and provide feedback. If possible, and even better, involve your customers. Provide them with scenarios and test data. Solicit their feedback in areas such as simplicity, pace, clarity of self-direction, recognition (they may be responding with something you didn’t anticipate) etc. The feedback you receive from usability testing is extremely valuable and beats learning about caller challenges after your application is in production.

Best Practice #2: Introduce ongoing application tuning. Prior to speech applications, touch-tone, or DTMF (dual tone multi frequency), interactive voice response (IVR) applications were largely designed, developed and implemented just once. Once trained, an electronic agent needed little to no follow-up training. Not so in a speech environment.

Speech applications require periodic tuning and analysis. Initial tunings will yield numerous opportunities to improve performance, and subsequent tunings will continue to produce opportunities. I believe two to three tunings in the first year of a new speech implementation is appropriate. For more mature applications, one to two per year will suffice.

If done well, a good speech application can deliver an improved caller experience, while delivering savings to your bottom line. I invite you to comment below and/or share your own best practices for deploying speech recognition.


Chip Funk

Chip Funk

I joined the Interactive Intelligence team in 2012 and couldn't think of a place I would rather work, short of perhaps a professional baseball team. Baseball is my passion, but I have learned to love what I do over the course of my career. I have enjoyed more than 25 years of experience in the contact center either leading the operation, building the contact center services teams that support the operation, or filling the all-too-present gap between Information Technology and contact center leadership. As a Manager in our Contact Center Consulting organization, my team is responsible for the consulting needs of our customers in the Eastern and Southeastern regions. We work with organizations to define contact center strategy, improve the quality of their customer experience, redesign or introduce processes necessary to drive contact center execution and most importantly, leverage their investment in Interactive Intelligence products. I believe a key to the success I have experienced in my career is my fascination with people watching and developing the ability to apply the appropriate leadership style. As a result, my guilty pleasure is reality TV. Fortunately, my wife Maureen is a people watcher as well.