Ninth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Pittsburgh, PA, USA
September 17-21, 2006

Conversational Help Desk: Vague Callers and Context Switch

Osamuyimen Stewart, Juan Huerta, Ea-Ee Jan, Cheng Wu, Xiang Li, David Lubensky

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA

Two salient properties of user behavior make Help Desk a unique speech application different from the more general transactional kind: (a) majority of users have only vague ideas about their problem, and (b) these users are likely to context-switch (change discourse topic) during the course of a dialog. We describe a conversational Help Desk natural language call routing application and show how the alignment of Voice User Interface (VUI), Grammar Development, and Application Architecture results in a conversational user interface that is able to guide the vague user in the most optimal way while being flexible to allow mid-discourse context switches. Usability evaluation confirms the peculiar user behavior and provides empirical evidence that userís perception of time in a speech application can be influenced by the dialog; in this case, Help Desk usersí tend not to become impatient going through three-five dialog turns, as long as dialog is progressing toward problem-resolution.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Stewart, Osamuyimen / Huerta, Juan / Jan, Ea-Ee / Wu, Cheng / Li, Xiang / Lubensky, David (2006): "Conversational help desk: vague callers and context switch", In INTERSPEECH-2006, paper 1291-Wed2FoP.2.