TalkTalk Awards Case Study and Site Visit 2014: Natural Language IVR drives customer insight

How TalkTalk incorporate natural language to enrich IVR with over 300 call reasons, reaching 94% speech recognition accuracy, raising self-serve 28% with 16% fewer transfers.

The IVR & Telephony team at TalkTalk have simplified the customer journey massively, by implementing a natural language call steering IVR solution. This reduced business costs and improved customer satisfaction, as part of a wider company strategy to achieve ‘fewer, better’ contacts. Nuance Communications was selected to implement a proof of concept and to collaboratively design the solution and agree KPIs. Many departments within TalkTalk were engaged in a change forum and tagging workshops, which identified over 300 different call types – helping pinpoint self-serve opportunities and drive company-wide customer insight. MI have
combined this information with speech to create a live analytics report for the real time teams. Full roll-out is now continuing, with further MI reports, an integrated technical support model and an account and billing application.


  • Call recognition accuracy rate of 94% vs 70% target
  • 16% fewer transfers
  • Time in IVR reduced by 26 secs
  • CSAT increased by 0.6%
  • Self serve up 28%
  • Opportunity to further reduce call costs by in excess of £3.3 million    per annum

Site Visit was on 12th Sept in Warrington

Attending Companies
RSA, Aviva Healthcare, Qlick View, Tesco Bank General Insurance, UKAR, British Gas, Gold Medal Travel, United Utilities, Intercall

Example Job Titles
Service Delivery Manager, Customer Contact Team Manager, Senior Configuration Analyst, Real-Time Site Lead, Workforce Planning Specialist, Telephony Manager

Key takeaways and learning

  • Though there is an increasing amount of choice for customer Voice is still the most important and IVR is often the first contact a customer will have.
  • CLI recognition – if your customer calls you on multiple occasions why wouldn’t you identify them and use this information to route their call and improve their journey. 
  • Tailor on-hold messages for your customers, by matching their CLI with CRM database information to inform specific messages and market relevant products.
  • The value of live Real-Time MI reporting why customers are calling and all the ways this information can be used to improve operation performance. 
  • Natural language IVR could be used across all industry sectors in the room.

Top items covered on the day 

  1. IVR is often the first contact point for a customer so it is critical that it is given the right investment in skills and technology. 
  2. From a company perspective this will help improve the customer journey with efficient call routing, self-serve options and with effective data/MI improved visibility of why customers are calling.  
  3. From a customer perspective this will make their journey easier with no frustrations – natural voice gives them greater control of their destination, in their own words! 
  4. From a colleague perspective everyone is a winner, as calls will be routed to the right people and data can be used to tailor training/quality coaching sessions. 
  5. Natural language is an amazing technology solution, however this will only support a well-designed structure of an IVR.

Delegate Quotes
“Found the relaxed format very conducive to great conversation and debate. Have already started writing a presentation for Senior Management to recommend where I think natural Language could improve our customer journey. The value of natural language and the importance of putting a lot of work into the set up. A great number of ideas that don’t require natural language but made sense for us to implement.  In my view this worked brilliantly. Don’t fix what’s not broken!”
Jenny Hayes, RSA

“The opportunity to understand common challenges and see some of the technology we are about to implement in use.  Apply some of the learnings to our up-coming project - very good timing to discuss these things now as we have a project just kicking off.”
Laura Gardner, Intercall

“Hearing other peoples experiences and seeing what other call centres are doing!  How other companies work and the feel for future technology.”
Gaynor Duckworth, Gold Medal Travel

Take a look at these articles, videos and links
2014 Innovation Awards Winners and Case Studies
Find out more about Best Practice in IVR and On-Hold telephony
IVR and on-hold messages: are they fit for purpose?
Seventeen finalists announced for the 2014 awards


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