USAA to roll out speech-enabled iPhone app


Finally — a U.S. company is embracing smartphone technology directly in its customer service app!

Back in late 2010 I wrote about Groupama, an European insurance company, that produced a spectacular iPhone app for its customers. The app displays visual menus, estimated wait times, and even featured virtual hold. It was likely the first smartphone apps by a company that rethought how customer service should work in the smartphone era.

Today we have iPhones and Androids with specs and features that’ll blow your mind. One of the most powerful being a virtual assistant that understands your words. Apple incarnated it into iOS as Siri, powered by Nuance in the cloud. Google and a few third party developers also offer something similar, so by all means it’s not just an Apple thing, but Siri is perhaps the most widely known moniker for such a smartphone feature.

USAA is reported to announce an update to its iPhone app in early March that’ll enable voice recognition so customers can interact with USAA via their own smartphones. According to American Banker:

USAA, which has a strong reputation for innovating faster than other financial firms, will launch the first generation of voice assistance with support of more than 200 navigational commands, including allowing members to speak or type queries related to fund transfers, bill payment and answering questions like: what’s my balance?

Not surprisingly, USAA picked Nuance as the technology partner to provide the speech recognition features. The app uses Nuance’s Nina cloud-based virtual assistant and went into testing in September 2012. If the launch of the updated app is successful, it will definitely put Nina on the radars of a lot more mobile developers and hopefully further jumpstart the development of more mobile CX solutions.

USAA customers, consider yourselves lucky to be one of the first to receive company service just by talking into your smartphone (and avoiding that IVR)…

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