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Voicexml the New Standard for Voice Applications

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VoiceXML the New Standard for Voice Applications

From the initial introduction of VoiceXML in March of 2000, the world of customer service and voice applications have been turned upside down. Before VoiceXML, companies were complaining about the flexibility of their voice applications. Problems were arising because consumers were growing tired of using the touch-tone keypad on their telephones to select options and companies were losing more money than they would have liked. In order to increase the portability of their applications, companies decided to find a new way to standardize their interface. The solution that came about was VoiceXML, which was created by Motorola, AT&T, Lucent Technologies and IBM.

The VoiceXML language is based on the World Wide Web Consortium's XML standard. Through the use of VoiceXML speech enabled applications have begun to help companies cut costs and deliver superior service. This standard has almost revolutionized the way that companies handle automated calls. This standard has started a competitive market for other platforms that enable businesses to improve all processes of their customer care and communication over the phone.

VoiceXML or VXML is an open standard for building and controlling intelligent voice applications that incorporate speech recognition and text to speech technologies. According to Xiaole Song, VoiceXML is designed to be platform independent around the same server logic pull model used for HTML applications. Developers are able to create audio dialogs that have speech, audio, and the recognition of spoken and touch tone input and mixed conversations. Most of the existing automatic call handling systems lacked intelligence because they were built on menu structures that were not flexible. They were functional for the most part but they were really frustrating for end users. Speech recognition makes it practical to do things with the telephone that would be impractical using the telephone keypad. Callers are no longer limited to working their way through complex menu options. Voice recognition is opening up new positions in emerging applications although it is not yet at the point with the system.

The VoiceXML's main goal is to offer a common approach and broad support of platform for voice applications, similar to what HTML provides for web-based applications. Markup languages that already exist are not quite right for developing voice applications, because they were designed to deliver text data. As an XML-based definition with an HTML-like appearance, VoiceXML will be easy to learn for experienced web content programmers and will be adjustable for easy processing by tools that support desktop progress of VXML web applications. VoiceXML is a technology that brings a number of useful capabilities together into the web advancement space. These capabilities can be used to build informative user experiences that allow callers to access information and transaction services through a telephone

Since its inception VXML has grown more popular with companies that handle large amounts of customer contact. Through almost all industries companies that utilize contact centers are changing the way that they operate customer service. They are changing their operations in order to reduce cost, increase customer satisfaction, grow revenue, and gain competitive advantage. Giving a voice to these business applications allows customers to access key information more quickly and easily, thus enabling greater profitableness for the companies that use them. According to Steve Martin, executive director of fulfillment operations at TV Guide, implementing speech enabled applications improved customer service while also reducing telecommunications and staffing costs.

The applications can get rid of the old voice recordings used in interactive voice response (IVR) systems and add a friendly voice-user interface (VUI) that understands conversational language. The voice-user interface allows consumers to verbally make selections rather than inputting them on a touch-tone keypad. Robert Mitchell states that, state-of-the-art speech-enabled systems can cut through complex and confusing touch-tone menu hierarchies used in traditional dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) systems by allowing users to say exactly what they want and then jump directly to that function.

Competition has become more prevalent since the emergence of VoiceXML. Companies such as TV Guide and T-Mobile have successfully integrated speech-enabled applications. TV Guide has expanded their services to include surveys and other in-house activities such as an employee directory. Mike Sax, director of global technology services of Gtech Holdings Corp., says that they saw a 15% increase in acceptance of its voice-enabled system almost out of the gate. There have been some drawbacks in marketing the new system to customers. Some people bypass the option to use the new choices because they are so used to using the touch-tone option.

Recently, the VXML forum, an industry organization focused on promoting and accelerating the



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