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Kiwi company is happy to be on the phone for 7 yrs


Kiwi company is happy to be on the phone for 7 years
Auckland-based VeCommerce is leading the world in speech recognition solutions

Auckland, 12 August 2003 - It may not be a simple case of “you say potato and I say potato”, or should that be ‘Paraparaumu’ or ‘Papakowhai’, but Auckland-based VeCommerce is leading the world in the development and deployment of highly sophisticated ‘over-the-telephone’ natural language speech recognition (NLSR) solutions.

Originally developed in the USA during the 1960’s, speech recognition allows computers to ‘understand’ the spoken word and recent advances in technologies has both lowered the cost of deployment whilst simultaneously increasing the sophistication of possible solutions.

Tom Risbrook, VeCommerce’s New Zealand Country Manager said, “Way back in 1996, VeCommerce was one of the first companies in the world to recognise the business potential for this type of technology, which understands what people are saying, and then passes that information directly to a computer system where it can be actioned. When deployed commercially, there is a substantial bottom line benefit for organisations to automate their routine transactions or inquiries by allowing callers to contact them without struggling with frustrating push button menus or queuing for an operator to answer them.”

“Being based in New Zealand was something of a benefit for us,” Risbrook continued. “We were able to draw on the talents of the local software engineering community and bring together a number of highly skilled personnel which has given us a significant strategic advantage and as such we have been able to develop and deploy a number of world firsts.”

Those world firsts include New Zealand’s own Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Auckland Co-op Taxis, Pizza Hut and Suncorp Metway in Australia, as well as success around the world within the wagering and gaming industry.

“Most people would know us from the successes we have had with the TAB’s in Australia and elsewhere,” said Risbrook. “However the team in Auckland is very proud of the work we have been doing here with the MSD.”

With more than 5,000 staff in 170 different locations throughout New Zealand’s two islands, MSD provides strategic social policy advice in respect of income and child support, family and community policy in New Zealand.

Merv Dacre, MSD’s National Call Centre Manager, said, “We were looking for a solution that enabled our clients to access information quickly and easily but in a way that made sense to them. What was needed was a cost-effective and reliable solution that enabled us to answer routine and repetitive calls promptly.”

“We looked into a variety of offerings and came across VeCommerce and their natural language speech recognition (NLSR) solutions,” said Dacre.

MSD selected VeCommerce to develop a NLSR system for the department’s unique and specific call centre needs because of the complexity of calls coming into the call centre.

“We believed we could automate more calls with NLSR and also felt NLSR technology was more user friendly and would encourage more callers to use this channel,” he added.

Today, the new system, named Service Express, supports routine transactions including benefit payments and debt inquiries. A third is being developed to include income declaration calls.

“The system has been up and running since March 2002 and already we have 10,000 callers with their own PIN who are frequently using the service. Our statistics show we are getting 5,000 calls per week using Service Express. We are confident this will continue to grow as customers learn how simple it is to use,” concluded Dacre.

In the Wagering and Gaming markets, VeCommerce has enjoyed similar acceptance and success around the world.

“We had developed ‘push button’ wagering systems for the TAB here in NZ and TABCORP (Victoria, Australia) in the mid 1990’s,” said Risbrook. “It was a fairly natural progression to develop a speech based wagering system once we fully understood the potential, and the business outcomes, for the technology. Our first speech system was deployed in 2000 for the TAB in Queensland, and since then we have gone from strength to strength winning significant deals around the world with the likes of Ladbrokes in the UK and MEC in the USA.”

With speech based wagering systems now deployed in Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA, VeCommerce now has its sights set on the non-English wagering speaking markets around the world.

“Once again we benefit from having operations in New Zealand, said Risbrook. “When you start to look at the subtleties of another language and then attempt to develop a computer-based solution that will understand it, the cultural diversity we enjoy here is a huge bonus for us as we can draw on as many local multi-lingual resources as required.”


About VeCommerce – the future is hear®

VeCommerce Limited is a global leader in the provision of natural language speech recognition (NLSR) and voice enabled e-commerce solutions. With over 20 years experience in the communications and call processing industries, the company's name says it all, reflecting what VeCommerce offers the market.

VeCommerce provides business solutions that allow consumers to simply say what they want to an organisation's computer systems using any telephone. This results in complicated but 'routine' transactions being completed automatically - significantly reducing the cost of each transaction while enhancing customer satisfaction through an easy to use, friendly and consistent service.

VeCommerce clients include the Ministry of Social Development, Auckland Co-op Taxis, Blue Star Taxis, the Australian Tax Office, TAB Queensland (Aus), TAB Limited (Aus), TABCORP (Aus), Magna Entertainment Corporation (USA), Ladbrokes (UK), Woodbine (Canada), Pizza Hut (Aus).

More information about VeCommerce can be found by visiting the company’s web site at


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