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Customer Service Robotics

Wed Jul 30, 2008 - 10:40 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


The days of interacting with actual humans at the cell phone companies are numbered. Take this news release as a f'rinstance. Nuance Communications, makers of much voice recognition software for Treos and computers, announced Nuance Mobile Care, a mobile phone application that engages the mobile consumer in what the company calls "a new customer care experience" with the cell phone carrier.

New and non-human. By simply dialing the care number of their wireless provider, Nuance Mobile Care enables callers to check their balance, pay their bill, or perform other care tasks directly from the mobile screen. Importantly, the company's software has two components, one of which is in the phone, the other in the clutches of some computer that answers the provider's help line.

Nuance already signed its first wireless carrier for the solution, and expects adoption by others. According to the news release:

Each month, more than 250 million calls are placed to customer care by U.S. wireless subscribers that wait an average of three minutes to speak to an agent. Even with Web, WAP and IVR automation in place, the U.S. wireless industry spends more than $7 billion each year in agent costs to serve their subscribers. Nuance Mobile Care re-defines customer care through effortless access, personalization and a highly responsive user experience. The experience provided enables carriers to increase self-service automation rates, thereby improving customer satisfaction and driving down agent costs.
"Nuance is first introducing the powerful Nuance Mobile Care framework for mobile service providers worldwide," said Mikael Berner, vice president and general manager of Nuance On-Demand. "What's so captivating about this solution is that consumers love the experience. Rather than hoping to avoid calling customer care, we've found people prefer to access their account information via Mobile Care, preferring it over Web, touchtone or WAP service. Nuance Mobile Care is the latest milestone in our mission to serve the world's consumers and transform customer care as we know it."

I prefer talking to actual people when I need "customer care." I see no reason, for the rates they all charge, why the companies can't have someone answer the phone. Of course, I do mind the interminable waiting that process entails, so I usually interact with my cell carriers over the Internet, and no way else.

According to the company, more than seven billion care interactions are processed annually on Nuance technology, and their software is embedded in more than 3.5 billion shipped handsets. Nuance already has relationships with carriers and every major mobile equipment manufacturer, a definite leg up for this type of application.

For more information, visit www.nuance.com.

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