A single number gateway

A ‘Single Number Gateway’ - the ability to call one number, regardless of the nature of the enquiry - is an appealing strategy for any organisation that is looking to

  • streamline its costs
  • boost brand presence/awareness, and
  • improve customer satisfaction by delivering a simpler caller experience.
Initial slow adoption

The idea of a single number gateway started to gather initial momentum around 2001/2002 with speech recognition vendors at the time claiming that their technology now offered the means to provide a single access number to an organisation (e.g. for pre- and post- sales service) and to direct the caller to the right assistance by processing their response to a "Hello, how may I help you?" opening question. This was the first step towards adopting ‘natural language’ in speech self-service - allowing callers to respond in their own terms to express their wishes.

History shows that the enthusiasm for this approach proved to be harder to turn into genuine success than was anticipated. To some extent this was down to the immaturity of the available technology at the time, but fundamentally the cost and effort of launching and maintaining such solutions (often taking at least 6 months to develop and train for initial deployment) negated the potential business benefits and savings. Adoption was therefore slow.

Growing enthusiasm for single number gateways

Over half-a-decade on much has changed. Phenomenal increases in server performance and commensurate improvements in speech recognition engine accuracy have made the process of recognising ‘free form’ speaker-independent speech more pervasive and reliable. (The speech recognition capabilities now built into Windows Vista and Mac OS X, for example, have generally been received with much acclaim.)

Organisations are now beginning to take advantage of the flexibility and improved call delivery rates that a natural language (‘open question’) initial prompt gives them. As well as being easier to update in-service (usually by means updating the required grammars and re- configuration of available options) than a traditional fixed ‘main menu’ application, customer satisfaction rates can be improved by:

  • faster and more accurate direction to the correctly-skilled agents - often after just one input from the caller. This can also result in direct network cost savings for 0800 number usage as queue time costs money.
  • banishing tedious menu options to listen to - shorter call lengths and happier callers.
  • giving callers the chance to  express their enquiry in their own language
  • enabling customers to reach resolution without knowing anything about your organisation's departments or agent skills.
  • reducing the number of dedicated phone numbers for different services (possibly down to just one - the ‘single number gateway’)
A win-win situation

These benefits in turn lead to greater success and retention rates in the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) itself and ultimately this leads to  higher utilisation and increased cost reduction. It is a win-win strategy for both callers and your organisation.

Vicorp's consulting services are positioned to help organisations understand the business, technology and customer impact of implementing such strategies. Our professional services team design and deploy the voice applications that deliver tangible benefits and business returns. Our world-leading service creation toolkit gives Vicorp and its clients a unique advantage in the rapid delivery of effective and highly configurable voice applications.


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