Every time I use Bell’s automated 411 service, I inevitably end up having to repeat the name and address to a live operator
Dear Urban Decoder: Every time I use Bell’s automated 411 service, I inevitably end up having to repeat the name and address to a live operator. Do any callers actually get the information they seek on the first go?—Manny Vourinen, Etobicoke
The 411 system relies on voice-recognition software, but it’s still pretty rudimentary. The computer can understand city names, language preferences and other basics without a problem. But proper names are trickier, especially in the ethnically diverse GTA, and usually (though not always) the system needs the help of a flesh-and-blood operator. Not worth the hassle, you say? Well, the still-imperfect software shaves six seconds off the average 25-second call, for a 25 per cent increase in operator productivity. With some 315 operators in Ontario fielding more than 135,000 calls a day, that’s a significant improvement, one that should only increase as Bell phases in its latest generation of software in the next few months. If you find the automated system irksome, an Ontario software company recently patented a program that determines if callers are annoyed, immediately transferring them to a live operator.