Transport for London

Intelligent Voice Recognition and Call Routing

Transport for London (TfL) was created in 2000 and is the integrated body responsible for the Capital's transport system. Its main role is to implement the Mayor's Transport Strategy for London and manage transport services across the Capital. TfL is accountable for both the planning and delivery of transport facilities.


TfL developed the Contact Centre Transformation Programme, which focused on a number of key technology initiatives to improve customer services and reduce costs. A primary driver was to expand TfL's service offering across all channels including the provision of a natural language solution.

TfL's existing call routing touchtone menu has many options and layers. Agents were tied up having to re-route calls, wasting agent and telephony resource. Callers became confused and frustrated; resulting in negative customer experience. There were over 30 different contact numbers for various TfL customer services but only two were heavily advertised or widely known by their customer base. TfL customer research showed that some numbers up to 40 percent of callers were misdirected or calling an incorrect number.

Misdirected calls could take between 30-40 seconds for an agent to understand the customer requirement and transfer them to the appropriate place or provide information.


Eckoh conducted a comprehensive feasibility study for TfL between February and July 2011, which identified that between 20-40 percent of calls to some numbers are misrouted. To solve this problem Eckoh proposed the implementation of its speech recognition call steering product EckohASSIST.

The new EckohASSIST service will greet all inbound calls to TfL with a natural dialogue that asks the caller How can I help you? Based upon the callers reply EckohASSIST uses advanced speech recognition technology combined with a statistical language model (SLM) to classify where the call should be routed.

When it is difficult to be confident of the caller's requirement their audio is streamed to a 'hidden' contact centre agent to classify the call and assist the service. This correction is fed back into the SLM to improve the accuracy on a continual basis. As the hidden agent never speaks directly with the caller this allows one agent to deal with multiple calls and help callers get to the right destination first time.


EckohASSIST improves customer experience and agent utilisation. Calls can be routed based on specific call types; this could be to a range of automated services of skilled agent groups and where appropriate the caller could be directed to a website or mobile web application. This solution forms an integral part of TfL's plans to improve customer service and efficiency and was deployed in Spring 2012.

Will Judge, Head of Future Ticketing at TfL comments: "By sourcing these services through Eckoh, TfL has mitigated the need to invest expensive hardware of its own, thus maximising value for its customers and ensuring the technical solution remains evergreen."

"What is paramount to us is the delivery of excellent customer service to the general public. Eckoh’s industry leading technology delivers this and enables us to ensure that calls are directed to the right place, first time and provide a quick, convenient and positive experience."
Will Judge, Head of Future Ticketing, Transport for London