Voice recognition for VW financial

Volkswagen Financial Services AG (VWFS) has successfully transitioned to new automated self-service voice portal technology, achieving over 90 per cent customer satisfaction rates.

VWFS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG and coordinates the worldwide financial services activities of the Volkswagen Group and its subsidiaries.

Previously, all VWFS customers needing to conduct business over the phone and get answers to simple queries were directed to a single contact number served by call centre agents. But VWFS project manager Stephan Schneider told IT PRO a lack of segmentation led to long hold times for even the simplest enquiries.

"We'd been looking at IVR [interactive voice recognition] technology for some time, but only felt it was right to implement in 2003 when a survey suggested its use by other companies had made customers comfortable with its use," he said.

The company last year went live with phone application server software suite from provider VoiceObjects to deploy, manage, and analyse its speech-enabled applications, after first deploying and developing the technology with third party integrators during 2005.

"We liked the interactive front end of the VoiceObjects portal and spent about nine months developing that and the integrations with our standard and bespoke back-end systems, including SAP, to make sure the information they held could be imparted to the customer by the system," Schneider said.

The system integrates with the existing VWFS IT environment, including the Genesys media conferencing platform, the open source Jetty web application server, Nuance speech recognition and text-to-speech software, Oracle databases, and SAP customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) products. In addition, VWFS can analyse real-time application and system statistics using SAP's business intelligence software in combination with VoiceObjects Analyser and Infostore.

Now the VoiceObjects suite enables VWFS to easily manage increasing call volumes while improving customer satisfaction and reducing service costs. The results of an annual customer service survey found that more than 90 per cent were very satisfied with the new system.

The portal has also helped manage incoming call loads more effectively, where each caller first interacts with the voice portal using interactive dialogues and flexible menus before being routed to an agent.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.