I'm no fan of speech-enabled phone “customer service,” but use of the technology is clearly growing. It also offers an alternative to offshore outsourcing, as the article and research report cited below indicate.
A November 2004 article, Speech-Enabled Self-Service Technology Beats Offshoring,” summarizes research from Datamonitor as follows:
The report, “Voice Business in Regional Perspective: The Americas,” reveals that when compared to one handled in the domestic market, a call center in an offshore location, like India, saves a US company approximately 25% to 35% per transaction – significant savings. However, a call serviced through speech automation costs approximately 15% to 25% of the cost of a call handled by an agent in India. Currently, offshore call center agents deal with low level transactions, while higher level transactions are typically handled by domestic agents. This has led to a sharpened focus among enterprises on improving and automating phone-based transactions through speech recognition technology.