Have you ever tried finding the closest retail chain store from your cellphone by dialing the retail outlet's IVR? Or have you ever tried to check to see if a store in your area has a particular product in stock and what the current price is?
Well, I know I have and almost always it was a trying experience. For example, if you have ever called CompUSA's IVR/auto-attendant, you know it is not a fun experience. One time, I wanted to know if they had a particular CD-burner model in stock and I was stuck in IVR hell. Only after being forced to listen to various IVR menus was I able to "zero out" to the operator. If only I could just simply say "Do you have a Plextor CD burner model number xyz in stock" and the IVR could perform speech recognition, query the inventory database and give me the results in no time at all.
Well, such a solution exists. Parus Interactive has a speech-enabled IVR solution specifically targetting retail outlets. It was just announced yesterday and they are exhibiting at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York this week from January 16-19, so you may want to go check them out. If you are not familiar with Parus Interactive, they purchased Webley. Parus Interactive's services are IP-based and powered by advanced natural language voice recognition and session initiation protocol (SIP) technologies.
In addition to this IVR speech-enabled product, they also have some nifty SIP-based VoIP applications that enable you to have one number follow-me with a SIP-based softclient to receive phone calls wherever you are. With its speech technology, you can even perform "Wildfire-like" functions such as speech-dialing from your cellphone, email retrieval using your voice, and more. If you don't know what Wildfire is, the full company name was Wildfire Communications and they went boom with the dot com boom. Actually they were purchased by Orange and then Orange became part of France Telecom. But in any event, Wildfire made the speech-enabled autoattendant famous whereby you could simply speak your commands from your cellphone to the autoattendant to retrieve email, place a call, etc.
Anyway, here's the release announced yesterday...
Retail Customers Ask For What They Want
Parus Interactive Unveils Natural Language Retail Interactive Voice Response System
(New York, New York-January 16, 2004) The days when customers of chain retailers had to wait for long periods of time on hold to ask for directions or to discover the price and availability of products they desire are about to become a thing of the past and as easy as saying hello in 2005.
Retailers will also be able to say good-bye to having to field those repetitive calls from customers too as Parus Interactive (Booth # 477) debuts their four next-generation speech-enabled Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications at the National Retail Federation Convention and Expo, January 16-19 in New York City at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center.
The four applications, developed specifically for multi-location retail operators by Parus Interactive, include a Store Locator; both a chain wide and an advanced individual store level Product Pricing and Availability search engines along with an Order and Delivery Status notification module which answers the customer's questions quickly and efficiently.
All of this has been made possible by Parus' patented speech-powered solution which now makes obtaining the desired information as simple as using the human voice and a telephone which enables customers to be able to receive the answers they need without any button pushing or delay.
The Store Locator - will identify the nearest store, based on the caller's location. A key point of differentiation is that the Parus Interactive platform enables users to speak a city and state, OR a zip code compared to the current applications which only allow users to find store locations based on ZIP codes alone.
Product Pricing and Availability (PPA) - provides callers with the ability to determine what products a retailer sells, the pricing of products, and the availability of products in stock. Product feature descriptions are also available to the caller.
An enhanced Advanced Product Pricing and Availability (PPA) - means a customer can enter the system in search of a nearby store location and then determine the pricing and availability of products at a particular store. Alternatively, the caller can also inquire about product pricing and availability and then retrieve a list of all store locations where a particular product is currently in stock.
Order / Delivery Status - enables a caller to check the status of a previously placed product/delivery order by invoice or order number. The caller can change order status, to have the product delivered at different time/location, or cancel delivery and choose to pickup the product in person.
In addition to hearing the information from any of the four applications immediately, the caller can choose to have all retrievable information sent to him/her as an e-mail or fax. The caller can also choose to automatically dial through to any store he/she designates.
About Parus Interactive
Parus Interactive is a leading provider of hosted, speech-enabled interactive voice response solutions. The company is dedicated to meeting the needs of clients within the U.S. retail industry. Its products enable multi-location retailers of all sizes to quickly deploy solutions that add value by enhancing the experiences that their customers have when communicating with them by telephone.
Unlike traditional hardware-based IVR systems, the Parus Interactive solution allows clients to replace capital expenditures and maintenance costs with more manageable and predictable operating expenses. This approach provides clients with a more immediate return on their investment.
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