Voice Recognition System, Automated Attendant - F. A. Q.
How does it work?
The Voice Recognition System (V.R.S.) is a bilingual system, French language and English Language independently. The system should recognize a large number of names at the onset. The solution that has been selected has over 1 million names pre-recorded names that it attempts to match the caller request up with. If the system is unsuccessful at finding a match, the system logs the request which is then reviewed and updated by the Systems Administrators
During the initial phase of the project, the V.R.S. will be in operation, outside of normal business hours including evenings, weekends and holidays. Currently callers, who do not know the telephone number of the person they wish to reach, have their calls re-directed to a night message that informs them that our offices are closed and to call back during regular business hours.
The V.R.S. will re-route the incoming call based on the name of the person or unit requested by the caller, and in the case where someone is available, provide access to resources that were previously unavailable off hours. With client approval the solution may be subsequently placed into the attendant queue that is part of InfoService.
Who can use the service?
The service will be available to anyone calling the University of Ottawa. The V.R.S. will be placed into the call handling sequence of 562-5800. Once the initial greeting of the University has played, callers are given the opportunity to dial an extension number or alternately get passed to the V.R.S. which will ask the caller to select the language of interaction and then ask the caller to speak the name of the person or unit that they wish to contact.
Where does the V.R.S. get my information from?
’s web site and is maintained by Administrative Officers and Administrative Assistants. Check your individual coordinates by going to http://www.uottawa.ca/search and entering your name. Should your information be incorrect or incomplete, return to the main search page and click on “Contact your sector representative to update your info” to find the administrative person responsible for your sector.
If you do not wish to have your information included, this is a decision that has to be agreed upon in conjunction with your faculty, service and department policies. Ultimately, it is the Dean and/or Directors who will decide on who is represented and it is the administrative officers that are ultimately responsible for the records in the database
The system recognizes names by listening to the caller and matching the syllables that are spoken with entries in the system using a text to speech conversion. That is why the system will ask for confirmation from the caller before passing off the call
How often is the data updated?
An automated process updates the data used by the V.R.S. on a daily basis and from the Telephone Directory database. The Telephone Directory database is updated by administrative persons as time permits, therefore it is very important to verify your entry in the Telephone Directory and request any necessary changes to ensure that your information is always up to date in the V.R.S.
How do I get my information updated?
You must send a request for changes to the administrative person responsible for your faculty, department or service. A list of Administrative officers & Administrative Assistants accessible from the Search page. Click the link found in “For changes to personal data, contact the appropriate representative on this list.” Locate the appropriate person from this list and click on their e-mail address to open an e-mail window.
Since administrative officers and administrative assistants cannot make changes or corrections to the family or given name of an individual, it is important that these requests be directed to InfoService.
If I have a problem with this system who do I report it to?
If you encounter problems with the automated V.R.S. or with the process that links you with the person or unit you are trying to contact, fill in the Service Desk request form or contact the Service Desk at 613-562-5800 extension 6555.
If you need to make changes to your personal information (name, last name) contact InfoService.
What happens if the system doesn’t recognize the name of the person or organizational unit that is being asked for?
The V.R.S. will make a couple of attempts at recognizing the name of the person or unit that you are trying to contact. This is done by attempting to make match the name spoken with the name that has been digitally translated by the system. If the system cannot produce a match after two attempts, it will either transfer your call to a live attendant at InfoService (during the day) or to a pre-recorded message (after hours). *The default setting in the system is two attempts.
May I use speaker phones or cellular phones when contacting the V.R.S.?
Speaker phones and cellular phones may be used when contacting the system, however, the ability of the system to understand the name of the person or unit you want to call may be affected by surrounding noise and signal quality resulting in a lesser degree of success in routing your call to the appropriate resource.
Using Speaker phones and cellular phones may cause the introduction of ambient noise. This noise is caused by surrounding sounds and may jeopardize the ability of the system to recognize the name of the person or Unit you are wishing to reach. As a result, it may offer you some obscure response or not recognize what you are asking for and transfer your request to an attendant.
If I ask for someone by title will the system understand who I’m looking for?
The V.R.S. comes with an integrated template of terms such as Mr., Mrs., Dr., Professor and other terms related to an educational environment. If you say, “I would like to speak to Dr XXX.” the system recognizes the terminology and puts it aside for inclusion in the confirmation message that it will play back. The success rate of using <title + family name> will result in a lesser degree of recognition by the system. The system cannot determine whether database entries are male or female and it will therefore give matches based on all database entries that match the family name. For greater success, use the given and family name.
Are the people in central administration included in the directory?
Examples: President, Rector, Vice-President, Vice-Rector, Office of the President and Vice Chancellor
Central administration is included in the V.R.S., however direct contact with the individual may not be possible without the intervention of their administrative assistants Since members of the central administration may be known by various titles, it is possible to include these traditional titles as aliases in the database and have the system forward calls based on these aliases.
Can a person have more than one telephone number associated with them? If I maintain two offices or I have a dual role, how does the system know where to route the call to?
The V.R.S. is set up to handle university telephone numbers and extensions as well as calls directed to some medical staff with offices / clinics in surrounding medical facilities. The transfer of the call for University numbers and extensions will happen automatically. Associated or affiliated organizations will, in the majority of cases, result in play back of the telephone number (twice) by the V.R.S. and subsequently a hang up of the call. This parameter is managed by the system administrator for The V.R.S.
There is only one primary number allocated per person. It is possible, however, for some individuals to maintain more than one affiliation. If a person is entered under two Organizational Units, the system will ask, “Do you wish to speak to XXXX in YYYORGUNIT?” or “Do you wish to speak ZZZ in VVVORGUNIT?” This allows the caller to select the person and the location that they wish to forward the call to.
How does the system recognize the name of the person or unit that I am trying to reach?
The V.R.S. is set up to recognize the combination of first name and last name including compound names and names of organizational units. This is done by phonetically matching the names in the database and what is being spoken by the caller.
The variances in names, such as nicknames for people and different ways of saying the name of an organizational unit, are typically loaded into the system as aliases.
For example in the person part of the database, William may also be known as Will or Bill. A caller may use any of these names and expect to reach the person they want to speak to.
Can the V.R.S. handle calls in French and English?
Although the V.R.S. is bilingual, there are names that are traditionally better handled using either a French or an English interface. As part of configuring the system, there has been considerable testing of database entries.
A decision regarding the language of interaction was taken in order to tune the system and reduce occurrences of improperly pronouncing the names. If your name is not being played back correctly by the V.R.S. please report this to the Service Desk.
How does the system handle different manners in which a caller might say the name of a person or organizational unit? As an example: Math, Department of Mathematics, or Mathematics Department
For organizational units, aliases are generated as part of the setup and ongoing maintenance of the database. These aliases are set up in fields that are protected and not uploaded as part of the daily updates from the Telephone Directory.
What happens if there is more than one person with the same name in the database?
When there is more than one entry in the database that matches what the caller is asking for, the system will prompt the caller to make a decision based on the Organizational Unit that the person they wish to reach is affiliated to.
What happens to names that are spelled one way and pronounced another?
There may be cases in the database where a name is spelled one way and pronounced another. In these cases, there is a process in place that will allow the system administrator to grant “temporary access” to the system and have the person “record” their voice print into the system. Being a translation from text to speech the system cannot recognize, compensate for or correct this type of entry.
Why are initials not included in the data for the vast majority of our personnel?
Initials are not typically used in conjunction with the V.R.S. due to the manner in which they affect play back of the message to the caller as well as conflicts using the initials and interaction with the template that is used for titles. As an example: something like the initial M. may be understood by the system as being Mr. Although this may be appropriate in cases where colleagues are male, it is not appropriate to imply that a female colleague would be referred to in this matter.
Another anomaly is that the system will take the first name of the person that the caller is asking for and basically compress the given name and initial together and do the play back of the combined name. As an example: someone with the name Peter J. XXX will in the French play back sound like “do you wish to speak to PETERJ XXX (Pronounced PETERGEE).
How do we safeguard the integrity of the University and reduce the potential of failures in the V.R.S.?
The V.R.S. consists of a redundant system that includes dual servers, dual communications, dual connectivity to centralized telephony services, dual software components, and a regular centralized backup system. Secured access is in place for remote maintenance of the V.R.S. software and regular updating of dictionary entries. Maintenance of the physical servers is handled by CCS specialists.
Can the V.R.S. be used internally without having to dial 613-562-5800?
You can access the V.R.S. internally by dialing extension 7411 or setting up a speed call to this extension on your office telephone. Accessing the system this way directly bypasses the Welcome greeting. The first message you will hear will be the bilingual instruction message welcoming you to the V.R.S. and asking you to make a language selection.