The Text Channel: Text and Sensibility


Our push toward the text channel has been motivated by the fact that many consumers report that they prefer a text interface to voice. But opening this channel for both live agent interaction and interactive self-help also gives us an opportunity to address the broader challenge of contact center accessibility. The idea of Universal Design is not about making design modifications to accommodate individual groups; it is about accessibility that is both baked into a design itself and benefits all users simultaneously.Text Blog 2-29-16

Hearing-impaired individuals, for example, are not going to phone a contact center without having to employ a secondary service for communication. The ability to converse in real-time with an agent in the text channel is a huge cost savings and empowerment for the customer.

Sight-impaired customers, on the other hand, are not going to engage in a self-help task via a company’s website or a mobile app, neither of which typically is easily navigable via screen reading technology. Braille displays and text-to-speech systems, however, empower individuals to perceive text easily, and responses can be composed on keyboards or dictated to speech recognition.

This is where the broader accessibility of text comes into play. Customers using augmentative communication devices could use the voice channel, but their devices create long delays when composing a response. In an IVR context, this delay could very likely trigger a no-input interruption. In the text channel, the longer delays can be more easily accommodated creating a better and more rewarding experience for the user.

Inclusive technology often has universal benefits. Pinch-and-zoom technology was originally designed for the sight-impaired, but it has become a universal way for everyone to see details on small screens.  Speech recognition for device control helps anyone who wants to use their device without their hands or their gaze. The text channel empowers people to connect to agents, their data, or self-help tasks by ushering in a new type of universally-accessible customer experience.




Lisa Michaud

Lisa Michaud is the Director of Natural Language Processing (NLP) at Aspect. She has been centrally involved in the integration of NLP components into Aspect’s product suite for customer engagement and the architecting of our Interactive Text Response (chatbot) technology. She has 20 years of research experience in the field of Natural Language Processing / Computational Linguistics and pursues diverse interests in user modeling, dialogue, parsing, generation, and the analysis of non-grammatical text.She holds a PhD in Computer Science and has been published in multiple international journals, workshops, and conferences in the fields of user-adaptive interaction and Computational Linguistics.