When we wisely abandon the drudgery, procrastination, and time wasting involved in keyboarding information among professional engineering and scientific people and, instead, use voice for serious, paragraph length data entry into company databases, when we see the natural and intuitive simplicity of a voice-based data entry approach, we can appreciate two applications that have been proved successful in major U.S. corporations:
1. Customer Satisfaction Surveys – identify the customer contacts you want to hear from, ask them to participate, give them a phone number to call and a secure (and anonymous) ID number, and then let them call into an open dictation system and answer 4-5 simple and general questions as they choose to answer. This will give you what is truly “the voice of the customer.” Then, use a qualitative knowledge analysis tool to convert the audio to digital, number/code the “thought units” (word, phrase, or sentence with one unique message), and enter the information into the database for analysis.
Such a system has been used by several major aerospace companies with their Department of Defense contacts on major weapons systems. The contacts are asked to comment on their perceptions of customer service, teamwork, product efficacy, and other issues they might have with the company sponsoring the survey (observing all confidentiality requirements). With this service, you get 95% participation, speaking times of 5-8 minutes (equivalent to about one-half page of 12-point font text), and significant qualitative insight into the feelings, attitudes, and perceptions of the callers/speakers. All input is anonymous in the database, so callers are free to speak their minds without fear of discovery or repercussion.
Voice-based data entry for customer satisfaction surveys is a state-of-the-art qualitative method of “hearing” directly, with words and emotions, the perception of company products and services with statements of satisfaction and suggestions for improvement and being able to perform analytics on those data.
2. Large Proposal Preparation – have the Proposal Manager set up the outline for the proposal, following exactly the guidance in the Statement of Work, Sections L and M of the RFP, and other guidance. Then have that Manager assign sections to the various content specialists and top level managers who know the information that is to go in each section. Realizing that at the beginning the people already know 98% of what is needed in the proposal, then have each of those persons call into the open voice-based system, enter their ID number, and then speak in their information. This is the very best “pre-kick-off” activity because it generates a baseline prototype of the document in a very short time. Have those inputs transcribed and entered into a master database for the sections of the proposal. Then a week prior to the formal “kick-off” meeting, pass out these documents and have everyone come to the beginning meeting ready to discuss the proposal direction, win themes, and content.
In a very short time, you can move from the announcement of the proposal to a working prototype with all sections started and everyone discussing the overall structure and content of the proposal. This is a far more effective method of proposal starting than storyboarding. This voice-based data entry is a tremendous tool for “front-end loading” and “rapid prototyping” of a proposal to get the energy up quickly and fully and everyone engaged and participating. One of the major problems with proposals is waiting too long to develop an initial prototype of the final document. This is sometimes left until the end of the effort, the last step. Far more powerful, is a front-loading by voice of all of the content that everyone already knows, getting it out where everyone can read it and evaluate it, and having an initial prototype in hand to force momentum and energy into the work.
Voice-based data entry systems are becoming a new industry, with companies seeking natural and intuitive ways to assist professional people gather and analyze “the voice of the customer.” Speak in the information and get it done in minutes, right now, with energy and intellectual intensity rather than depend on the old, tired keyboard method that can take months because of avoidance behavior, procrastination, and dislike of the writing task.