Barge-in for Voice Assistants and Voice IVRs

What is barge-in?

Have you ever wanted to skip ahead and respond to a voice assistant or voice IVR before the bot was finished speaking?

Barge-in is the ability for a user to interrupt a voice system, usually through speech, and give it a command or response. This can be useful in many scenarios, such as when a user wants to quickly ask a question or give a direction without having to wait for the system to complete playing back a lengthy prompt (like an IVR menu).

Barge-in can be a helpful feature, but it is a double-edged sword and can also be frustrating if a user accidentally interrupts a conversational thread that is already in flight. To avoid this, many systems disable barge-in by default or to set it to only work when a specific keyword is used.

If you’re considering using barge-in for your next project, be sure to test it with users to ensure that it works well for your specific use case.

How does barge-in work?

To use barge-in, the user simply speaks while the Voice Assistant or Voice IVR is speaking. The system will then stop speaking and process the user’s input and respond accordingly. You’re probably already familiar with barging-in in your day to day communications with other humans.

Check out Intel’s patent for the nitty gritty on start-of-speech, end-of-speech detection and duration are used.

What are the benefits of barge-in?

There are several benefits of barge-in, including allowing customers to interrupt automated systems and to request speak to a human agent, reducing wait times, and improving customer satisfaction KPIs. Additionally, barge-in can help to reduce costs associated with automated systems by reducing the amount of time phone lines are tied up.

How can barge-in be used in Voice IVR?

Barge-in is an advanced Voice IVR feature that allows callers to interrupt the automated system. This is useful for callers who may want to fast track their navigation in an IVR menu, or who have an urgent issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

Have you used a Voice IVR and expected you could barge-in? Well, here’s the documentation to enable barge-in on Google Dialogflow to ensure you’re not building “one of those dumb bots”.

Confusingly with Amazon Lex barge-in is enabled by default, but with Amazon Lex (Classic) barge-in is disabled by defaultRead the docs here.

What are the best practices for using barge-in in Voice IVR?

Barge-in is a great way to make your Voice IVR more user-friendly and efficient. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when using barge-in:

  • Use barge-in sparingly. Barge-in should only be used when it will truly improve the user experience as with all speech recognition it is not 100% accurate.
  • Make sure barge-in is properly configured. Barge-in should be properly configured to recognize the user’s voice and respond accordingly. If barge-in is not configured properly, it can cause problems for users.
  • Test, test, test! As with any IVR interaction, it’s important to test barge-in functionality before going live to ensure a positive caller experience.

How to use Barge-in to improve the customer experience

When it comes to customer experience, barge-in can be a powerful tool. By allowing customers to interrupt an ongoing interaction, barge-in can provide a more natural and efficient experience. There are several benefits of using barge-in for customer experience.

  • First, it can help to reduce wait times by allowing the customer to skip forward in conversational areas of familiarity.
  • Second, barge-in can help to improve the accuracy of customer interactions by allowing the customer to correct the system if it makes a mistake when coupled with #ImplicitConfirmations.
  • Third, barge-in can create a more efficient customer experience by reducing the need for customers to repeat themselves.

Barge-in can also help to create a more personal customer experience. By allowing customers to interrupt, barge-in can help to create a more conversational interaction. Natural human conversations often see a response just as the initial speaker is finishing their question. This can help to build rapport and trust between the customer and the company.

Overall, barge-in can be a beneficial tool for customer experience. By reducing time spent, improving accuracy, and creating a more efficient and personal experience, barge-in can help companies to better serve their customers.

Check out more tips to ensuring your bot meets user expectations.

What are the potential risks of barge-in

One of the biggest risks is that, if a system is not designed to handle barge-in properly, it may cause errors. For example, if a system is expecting a user to input data in a certain order, but a user barges in and gives a response out of order, it may leave the system in a confused state and result in a poor customer experience.

Background noise can trigger trigger barge-in. For example, if a system is designed to allow barge-in, any background noise can be mis recognised as user input and cause the system to take the user down an unexpected path.

Inconsistent use of barge-in can confuse users. For example, if a voice IVR allows customers to barge-in at the menu, users might also expect when providing information for transactions (API fulfillments)

If you are considering using barge-in, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully. In some cases, the risks may be worth it, but in others, they may not.

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