7 announces that it has become the first company to integrate Deep Neural Networks (DNN) technology into enterprise interactive voice response (IVR) using Microsoft’s DNN technology. The new release of the 7 Customer Engagement platform with speech recognition enhanced by DNN brings a sea-change in quality to enterprise IVR, with expected recognition accuracy of 95%, an increase as high as 25% as seen in client application tests for different languages. Such dramatic improvements will benefit all languages, not just English, and allow major companies to move more calls to self-service.
The need for enhanced self-service offerings has never been more pressing as two drivers converge – the world’s biggest companies look to implement self-service to increase customer satisfaction and cut contact center spend in half. At the same time, customers expect, and even prefer, self-service. According to the 2015 Gartner report, “Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy,” “by 2017, two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer require the support of a human intermediary.”
The IVR-based self-service channel has been historically hindered by customer frustration with speech recognition and the inability to handle noisier environments and different accents and dialects. The integration of Microsoft’s DNN technology into the 7 platform will help companies make their existing IVRs core to self-service that genuinely works for their customers. 7’s close partnership with Microsoft, a result of its acquisition of Microsoft’s enterprise IVR business, allows 7 to take unique advantage of Microsoft’s speech technology and provide sophisticated IVR benefits to its customers.
Benefits of DNN to Enterprise IVR
With this technology integration, 7 leverages the most advanced Microsoft speech recognition technology and speech science used in Microsoft products, including consumer-facing products like Cortana and Xbox. By integrating the technology into the 7 Customer Engagement platform, 7 enables companies to more accurately recognize a customer’s question or request, improving the self-service experience for that customer. As a result, customers are more comfortable turning to a company’s self-service channel and more satisfied after the exchange.
All DNN technology seeks to emulate the human brain when it comes to understanding the spoken word. The 7 Customer Engagement platform with Microsoft DNN technology trains with analyses from more than 10 billion speech utterances from Bing search, Xbox, and Windows Phone, and applies that to enterprise self-service IVR interactions, which often include challenges like background noise, accents and dialects.
Avis Budget Group is the first customer to use 7’s speech solutions with DNN technology across Europe. IVR is extremely important for car rental businesses to help perform customer service tasks like extending a rental as efficiently as possible.
“Customer satisfaction and self-service are strategic priorities for Avis Budget Group, from reservations and confirmations, to changes and extensions. It is critical that we provide the best, most efficient self-service experience possible,” said Gerard Insall, CIO of Avis Budget Group. “Our customers call from all types of noisy environments, and IVR systems have struggled in the past to make out the customer intent over and above the cacophony of airports and other busy public spaces. This new platform will help us to counter many of these issues and enable our customers to effortlessly complete their transactions in the IVR.”
“The science behind Microsoft’s Deep Neural Networks has dramatically improved speech recognition across a number of consumer and enterprise scenarios,” said David Ku, CVP, Application and Services Group, Microsoft. “We’re pleased that 7 is able to leverage Microsoft speech technology to bring significant benefits to enterprise IVR.”
“Incorporating Microsoft’s Deep Neural Networks into enterprise IVR is a gigantic stride forward for enterprises looking to deliver effective and reliable self-service for consumers,” said PV Kannan, CEO and Co-Founder of 7. “7 has been an early innovator in applying advanced predictive modeling and data analytics to customer engagement. Adding DNN is a major milestone in that lineage. With the increasing proliferation of mobile devices and branded mobile apps, we know that more difficult journeys will go to self-service, so major companies need these next generation solutions to meet customer expectations effectively.”