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bridgeSpeak is in the business of using voice technology to help auto dealers help their customers.

Detroit-based bridgeSpeak is in the business of using voice technology to help auto dealers help their customers. The company’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software packages helps automate the process of keeping in touch with the customer, so that service doesn’t have to end when the vehicle leaves the lot. Co-founder Jon Poploskie talked about the company and its relationship with Microsoft.

When and why was bridgeSpeak founded?

bridgeSpeak was founded in January 2004 to provide technologies that can help businesses communicate more effectively with their customers. We were excited about the new markets Microsoft was going to open up to the benefits of speech with its new Speech Server product.

How does your Interactive Voice Response and bridgeSpeak AR software work?

Automotive Retail (AR) is built on the Microsoft .NET Framework, and it allows automotive dealerships to interact with their customers by telephone. It automates the process of outbound calls to schedule and confirm appointments with customers, notify customers that parts they have ordered are in, as well as inform them about scheduled maintenance, recalls, or special promotions. The system quickly directs inbound calls to the person or department the callers wish to speak with. By automating some critical customer interactions, bridgeSpeak AR helps ensure that the dealers does not lose revenue due to missed appointments or parts not being picked up. It also drives new sales through customer mining.

Is the speech-recognition technology used in your products proprietary, or do you lease it from another company?

It is not proprietary; our products are built on Microsoft’s speech recognition platform, Microsoft Speech Server. It is based on the open SALT (Speech Application Language Tags) specification.

Do you have figures reflecting your products’ rate of adoption, such as a number of dealerships that use them?

bridgeSpeak’s Automotive Retail solution only recently became generally available, and we have a couple of dealers currently running the software. We are continuing to attract and secure new customers, and have been very happy with the interest the product is generating.

Describe your relationship with Microsoft, and how it benefits your company.

We were an early adopter of the Microsoft Speech Server product, and were one of the beta testers. We are also a Microsoft Speech Partner. This has had several benefits for us, including early access to software releases, educational opportunities, and development support.

Are your products aimed at certain-sized businesses?

bridgeSpeak AR has substantial benefits even for smaller businesses. Microsoft has priced Speech Server very attractively, which has enabled us to offer a lot of value to businesses of all sizes.

Can your software bring benefits to businesses outside the automotive business, or is it specific to that industry?

There are parts of the system that could be immediately used in other industries. The auto attendant, for example, could be used to replace a more cumbersome touchtone system, or to free up a receptionist’s time to better serve customers. Customer satisfaction followup can be used for any business that wants to ensure that their customers are happy with the service they’re receiving.

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