REDMOND, Wash. — May 8, 2006 —Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of the Microsoft® Speech Server 2007 beta and a new set of features to make it easier for companies to develop and manage well-designed voice response and touch-tone applications to address their callers’ needs and improve customer satisfaction. Scheduled for release in fall 2006, Speech Server 2007 is Microsoft’s next-generation speech and telephony platform to help contact centers and businesses meet the challenge of reducing costs while improving automated customer service over the telephone.
According to Opinion Research Corp.,1 nearly seven out of 10 consumers say they are less likely to do business with a company after a bad call center experience. Forrester Research Inc.2 also recently reported that many companies “fail to keep callers in their IVR system due to complex menus or poorly designed interfaces.” To help companies retain customers and provide cost-efficient customer service, Microsoft has built several new features into Speech Server 2007 that will provide the tools needed to build and refine robust applications that deliver a more satisfying experience for customers.
“We believe that software can create a great self-service experience,” said Rich Bray, general manager of Microsoft Speech Server at Microsoft. “The powerful tools in Speech Server 2007 dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of building and maintaining customer-friendly self-service systems, freeing your agents to focus on high-value transactions and high-touch customer service.”
Better Tools for Better Applications
Speech Server 2007, the third release of Microsoft’s speech and telephony platform, will include tools that simplify the application development process from start to finish as well as next-generation speech recognition capabilities based on advanced statistical modeling. These capabilities will make it easier to build and maintain customer-friendly self-service applications and give companies greater control over their self-service systems, enabling quicker issue diagnosis and resolution, and predictive problem-solving to stop issues before they affect the customer. Details of the new features include these:
Advisor Technology in Speech Server 2007 provides best-practice guidance during authoring and refinement of the grammar, which is the vocabulary of a speech-enabled application. The Grammar Design Advisor serves as the “grammar cop” for Speech Server 2007, catching problem areas before deployment. The Grammar Tuning Advisor intelligently clusters unrecognized words, giving contact centers the information they need to improve call completion rates. After tuning an application, developers can validate their improvements against actual caller responses to proactively identify any new issues.
Conversational Understanding represents the next generation in natural speech recognition technology and enables people to speak more naturally when interacting with a Speech Server-powered application. Using the Conversational Grammar Builder, a developer can create advanced conversational grammars quickly and easily by simply typing or importing example phrases.
Dialog Workflow Designer, based on the Windows® Workflow Foundation (http://msdn.microsoft.com/workflow), provides a simple drag-and-drop tool for designing applications and call flows. The end result is a Microsoft .NET assembly that is expressed visually in a Visio®-style diagram. Because it is based on the Workflow Foundation, the Dialog Workflow Designer can initiate other workflows including business rules, back-end operations or Web services calls.
With Speech Server 2007, developers will have a full range of options to build speech applications including Speech Application Language Tags (SALT), Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML), or a Microsoft .NET Framework-based language to build voice response applications; native support for session initiation protocol (SIP) to support IP contact centers; and extensible analysis and business intelligence tools.
Speech Server 2007 will be a global release with support for touch-tone applications around the world and speech-enabled applications in Canadian French, English (U.S. and U.K.), German, and U.S. Spanish at launch. Using the “language pack” expansion capability built into Speech Server 2007, additional languages can be introduced independently over time.
Speech Server Training and Information
Developers can apply for the Speech Server 2007 beta or take advantage of the multiple resources available to learn more about Speech Server, including webcasts, case studies and newsletters, by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/speech. The official Microsoft Speech Server team blog “You Talkin to Me” is also now available at http://blogs.msdn.com/mssblog.
About Microsoft Speech Server
Microsoft Speech Server is Microsoft’s IVR platform and provides the tools, run-time environment, and core speech and telephony services needed for speech-enabled telephony applications on a single, integrated platform. Microsoft Speech Server reduces the complexity and cost of building, deploying and maintaining dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) and speech-enabled applications for customer self-service and outbound notification. Contact centers and businesses use the award-winning platform to automate customer self-service calls, reduce call-center agent time, improve customer satisfaction, add speech capabilities to line-of-business applications and provide access to existing applications from any telephone. Speech Server also enables developers to use the powerful Visual Studio® 2005 development environment to cost-effectively build and maintain high-quality DTMF- and speech-enabled IVR applications. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/speech/default.mspx.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
1 “Call Center Performance – America Speaks,” Opinion Research, December 2005
2 “Self-Service Initiatives for Contact Centers,” Elizabeth Herrell, Forrester Research, April 24, 2006
Microsoft, Windows, Visio and Visual Studio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.