Virtual Office Featured Article
November 04, 2010Phone.com Launches Automated Voicemail-to-Text Service Ideal for the 'Virtual Office'
By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet
One of the most popular value-added services VoIP phone service providers are offering today is voicemail-to-text, which lets users read their voicemails as opposed to listening to them.
This relatively new technology is popular among business professionals, consumers and “pro-sumers” because it is convenient and saves time: Voicemail-to-text, the main component of “visual voicemail,” allows voicemails to be viewed in a text-based format on a mobile device’s screen, desktop computer or multimedia phone. As such, a user can “scan” through the message more quickly, picking out the parts that are important and relevant, without having to waste time listening to audio recordings that don’t get directly to the point.
It is particularly useful when the user is in a loud setting – such as a football game or rock concert – where it might not be possible to listen to voicemails. Similarly it is useful in quiet settings, such as when a user is in a meeting, needs access to messages, but doesn’t want to have to listen to messages in front of others.
For service providers the big challenge in delivering this service has been how to do it affordably. Many of them have tried to do it on an automated basis, using speech-to-text technology, but often the result was less than favorable – i.e. the recognizer couldn’t interpret every part of every message due to things like thick accents and background noises, thus the error rate was simply too high and there wasn’t much “value” in the service.
As a result, many providers had to hire people to “edit” the transcriptions which obviously added to the cost of the service (you have to figure the cost is passed off on the customer in some way). Some offered higher quality transcriptions as a premium service.
But speech recognition technology keeps improving – and keeps getting more accurate. As such, cloud-based VoIP phone service provider Phone.com has launched a new fully automated voicemail-to-text service geared for business professionals. This new service uses Yap (News - Alert) Inc.’s speech recognition technology, which, according to company officials, provides the “highest level” of accuracy, “enabling faster and more accurate transcriptions.”
Messages are transcribed immediately upon receipt and are forwarded to the customer’s email as well as to their phones as an SMS text message.
“Our customers tell us all the time how tedious it is to listen to long and detailed voicemail messages,” said Phone.com (News - Alert) CEO Ari Rabban in a release. “Our new transcription service makes it easy to check voicemail during business meetings or loud settings where listening to messages is not practical. In fact, our new service is so quick and so accurate, you might never listen to a voicemail ever again.”
The new voicemail-to-text service is available immediately to all Phone.com customers at a cost of $1.50 per month for unlimited transcriptions.
Phone.com made news last week when it announced a new partnership with Alliance Virtual Offices. Together the companies plan to “deliver a wide range of virtual communications solutions to the SOHO (small office/home office) market.”
“Alliance and Phone.com are combining resources to bring customers the virtual office telecom products, services and features they want most at prices they can afford,” a release states.
Phone.com’s virtual phone service is powered by advanced VoIP and SaaS (News - Alert) technologies. It offers several different services: Phone.com Virtual Office for small businesses; Phone.com Virtual Number for individuals on the go; and Phone.com Home Phone Plus for consumers; as well as Phone.com Mobile Office and Phone.com Mobile VoIP.
Patrick Barnard is Group Managing Editor, TMCnet, focusing mainly on call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard
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