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How to improve public-service phone menus - Bradley Lehman

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Uploaded on May 9, 2008

Everyone has met automated phone systems that have usability problems.

This short video offers strategies to improve those systems.

Good design requires an ear for conversational style and pacing. It takes very careful crafting of phrases, and connecting sentences that build context.

How will the caller react to the guiding questions, on first hearing, looking at nothing on any screen or paper? The VUI/IVR designer must plan the system's conversational style within that perspective.

The real-world example included here isn't one of the worst encountered, by any means. It probably wouldn't make the caller slam the phone down in annoyance. We all know some that do.

The video is a "suggestion box" to spark discussion. I think real-world systems should have a suggestion box (perhaps on the company's web site?) for real users to send improvement ideas to the voice designer.

Written and produced by Bradley Lehman, 9 May 2008.

A drafted sample of the first minute in a Medicare system is at
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/iv...
with a set of web pages simulating the dialogue.

My speech-recognition example is at
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/vu...

Bradley Lehman,
VUI and IVR designer

(VUI = voice user interface;
IVR = interactive voice response)

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