GetHuman, Microsoft and Nuance Aim to Improve Phone-Based Customer Service

NEW YORK — Aug. 8, 2006 — In his keynote speech today at the SpeechTEK 2006 conference in New York, Paul English, the founder of, announced the creation of new standards for telephone-based customer service. Microsoft Corp., Nuance Communications Inc. and other industry leaders, businesses and consumers will work with the GetHuman™ project to drive adoption of these standards, which are designed to eliminate poor caller experiences with automated systems.

Some of the proposed GetHuman standards include always giving callers the option to wait to speak to a customer service representative, with estimated wait times provided, and offering a call-back option. The proposal also requires that systems never make callers repeat any information they have provided during a call, and that all companies provide a simple mechanism for callers to rate a call for the quality of service provided.

After a comment period of 60 days, the GetHuman project team will incorporate community feedback to the standards and publish a final design document. Companies can then register their GetHuman-compliant phone service and begin to adopt the GetHuman “earcon,” an auditory icon that signals to callers that the company uses best practice customer service standards.

“I’m thrilled to work with Microsoft and Nuance on these important standards,” English said. “Consumers have put up with bad customer service over the phone for too long, and this new initiative will put some sanity back into how companies interact with their customers. Microsoft and Nuance are two of the key companies that can help make consumer-friendly phone systems a reality, and we are seeking other companies to join us in this effort.”

Today, customers who want to conduct transactions over the telephone may face confusing menus and, frequently, a different self-service experience for every company they try to contact. 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.

“At Microsoft, we believe that powerful software combined with customer-friendly standards such as this can elevate voice self-service to become a preferred solution for many tasks, just as the ATM and airport kiosks are today,” said Rich Bray, general manager of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft. “We look forward to working with Paul and the GetHuman project to incorporate community feedback and drive continuous improvement in the experience people have with voice applications.”

“Nuance has been a consistent champion of best practices in speech-automated customer support with thousands of implementations and dozens of award-winning systems,” said Peter Mahoney, vice president of worldwide marketing for Nuance Communications. “Paul’s proposal for these standards is consistent with our Human Touch™ efforts, and we are excited to collaborate with Paul to accelerate the adoption of these best practices.”

About Paul English and GetHuman

Paul English launched the nonprofit GetHuman project in February of 2006, with the goal to change the face of customer service in the U.S. The GetHuman Web site has been visited by over 1 million consumers a month, and has been covered on virtually all national media outlets over this past year. English is a serial entrepreneur in Boston; his current company is travel search, where he serves as CTO and co-founder. For more information about the GetHuman project, please visit

About Nuance Communications

Nuance is the leading provider of speech and imaging solutions for business and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with information and how they create, share and use documents. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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