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VoiceObjects and MATERNA Form Technology Partnership to Deliver Self-Service Phone Portals With Text User Interfaces

Text to Complement Voice, Video, Touch-Tone and Web Interfaces in Next-Generation Phone Applications

(PresseBox) (San Mateo, CA/Dortnund, ) MATERNA Information & Communications, a leading telecommunications software provider, and VoiceObjects, the leading provider of self-service phone portals, announced today the availability of integrated phone portal solutions that accept text user input and deliver text menu choices and other information over mobile handsets. The solution uses the SS7 data gateway (SDG) from Materna Communications, which transmits text via the unstructured supplementary services data (USSD) protocol that is part of the GSM standard, and the award-winning VoiceObjects phone application server, which enables the easy creation and deployment of phone applications that use text, voice, video, touch-tone, and Web user interfaces.

USSD-based text interfaces for phone applications offer benefits to both customers and service providers. Users enjoy a service channel with very fast response times at no cost, and providers deliver a customer service channel that has minimal impact on network capacity and reduces their customer care costs. Text-based customer service is a fraction of the cost of other customer service channels: on average, live agent calls cost $5.00 to provide, IVR systems cost $.50 per customer served and text-driven self-service costs only $.05 per task. To further benefit from this cost structure, organizations have the flexibility to institute customer segmentation strategies, deploying multiple phone channel applications for which the text channel is available to all customers and the live agent channel is available only to elite customers.

USSD gives carriers, mobile phone and call centre operators an add-on solution that offers long-term savings in customer care costs, without sacrificing service quality. The USSD solution is based on a tried-and-tested technology in the GSM network that is available to practically every popular customer device. The application is as easy for customers to operate as popular SMS text-messaging services. USSD-based customer services are characterised in particular by very fast response times and, in most cases, free provision for customers. Additionally, they are suitable as initial service levels for other innovative services like WLAN authentication or call-back services that take care of further sales growth.

"VoiceObjects is an ideal partner for us, and our USSD offering integrates perfectly into the VoiceObjects product portfolio," said Carsten Welge, product manager, MATERNA. "We´re looking forward to working with them to deliver user-friendly, cost-effective self-service voice portals."

The VoiceObjects phone application server enables text-driven applications to be personalized for each customer. The system dynamically generates menu choices and other text sent to the customer, using customer profiles, customer account information, and additional data stored in CRM or other databases. Personalization enables customer-centric organizations to create deep and lasting customer relationships and provides uniquely valuable opportunities for up-selling and cross selling. A customer with a low remaining minutes balance could be presented with an opportunity to purchase more minutes or to change plans.

The VoiceObjects software also enables applications created for any phone channel, i.e., text, voice, video, touch-tone, or Web, to be easily and inexpensively deployed on any of the other channels, reusing existing application development and enabling application consistency across channels.

"Multiple phone channel applications, delivered on a single infrastructure via a single service definition and resulting in a consistent user experience on any interface, are the gold standard of automated self service," said Michael Codini, chief technology officer, VoiceObjects. "Our joint solutions with MATERNA for the text channel, like our recently released VoiceObjects Media Mixer for the video channel, make it easier than ever for organizations to deliver best-in-class customer experiences."

About MATERNA Information & Communications
MATERNA is a leading software provider for information and communication technologies. The company, headquartered in Dortmund, employs 1200 employees globally at branches and subsidiaries located throughout Germany and Europe. The business unit Communications, "Anny Way" MATERNA, provides service platforms, content premium services as well as voice and video applications. In addition, MATERNA is successfully positioned as an MVNE in the market and is a leading provider of fixed network services. The portfolio includes also CUSS-solutions for airlines and airports. MATERNA´s ability to take difficult and complex challenges for clients has made the company a sought-after partner for mobile communications providers, service providers and other companies and agencies. The Business Unit Information offers process and technology consulting services together with the implementation of appropriate IT solutions. Public administrations and agencies, information and communications technology as well as the discrete manufacturing industry are the all-important sectors. In addition to their sector-specific-skills, MATERNA also has proven specialist expertise in the areas of service management and web services.