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June 5th, 2001

Phone Talk

Most automated voice phone systems are pretty weak, and even the ones that do voice recognition are pretty plain (“Please speak or enter your credit card number now”). However, yesterday, I got one of the more interesting systems I’ve heard.

I was calling a magazine subscription house to change some information that they had on file. A pleasant sounding recorded woman came on the phone and said, “Hello! Thank you for calling. I’m your automated assistant. Have you called us before? Please say ‘yes’ or ‘no.'” I replied in the negative. “Since this is your first visit, let me explain to you how this works…” She gave a short speech about how the system works and said that at anytime, I could interrupt her with a voice command. “You may choose from the following six voice commands…”

However, none of the commands had to do with talking to an operator. I decided to try this lady out. “Operator,” I said.

“You’d like to speak to an operator. OK. But since you may have to be put on hold for an operator, I might be able to help you more quickly. Are you sure that you don’t want me to help you?”

This was the real test.

“Hell no!” I replied.

“OK! Please hold for an operator.”

Cool. -ram

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday June 5, 2001 -- 7:46:20AM
I'm waiting for the day that the machines curse back.



FROM: Brian
DATE: Wednesday June 6, 2001 -- 10:02:26PM
One of the products that my company makes incorporates this ASR feature. It operates on a concept called "confidence levels"-- how sure the system is that what you said matches a valid option. It's sometimes surprising how much you can get away with on these things.



FROM:
DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:24:29 pm



FROM:
DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:24:30 pm



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