Written by Beth Hildreth on September 11, 2012
Categories: Blog Posts

When Steve Jobs revealed Apple’s virtual personal assistant Siri, he unknowingly unleashed a powerful model for the new age of customer service. Though Siri wasn’t made for company support, innovators saw potential for a friendly, interactive agent that doesn’t involve additional payroll.

Several companies have already capitalized on this opportunity. Innovators such as SRI International and Nuance Communications have launched such intelligent customer service mobile applications. SRI released Lola earlier this year, while Nuance released Nina just last month.

Why, you might ask, didn’t any of these innovations happen before? Several trends have converged recently to create this so-called dawn in mobile customer support innovation.

  • Smartphones have become ubiquitous, and more consumers want to use their device for customer service. They also put screens and microphones together in the customers’ hand for the first time.
  • These devices have become more powerful and are able to run increasingly sophisticated applications.
  • Smartphone manufacturers have made it easier to develop applications for their platforms.
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and speech recognition technologies have advanced. NLU is the technology that takes the spoken word and intelligently figures out the intent and context behind those words. Voice recognition is not new but has drastically improved from decades of recorded conversations.
  • Siri was the first to combine NLU and speech recognition technology into one highly-intelligent mobile experience.

To read more about voice-recognition technology, check out Software Advice Analyst Ashley Furness’ article on the topic. She explains more about how Nina and Lola work and what this trend means for the future of customer service.

Submitted by guest blogger Ashley Furness, software analyst with Software Advice