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VoiceMarks: restructuring hierarchical voice menus for improving navigation

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, or touch-tone telephony interfaces, are nowadays a common medium of interaction between organizations or companies and their customers, allowing users to access or enter specific company-based information. These telephony interfaces typically involve the use of hierarchically structured voice menus, through which a user has to navigate in order to locate a specific desired menu item. This navigation process is often inefficient and time-consuming, leaving users at times frustrated and annoyed. In this paper, we describe the foundation of VoiceMarks, a system designed to improve the ease and efficiency of navigation in menu-based voice interfaces. The system features personalized menus through the use of voicemarks, in a process similar to bookmarking, but adapted to voice interfaces. VoiceMarks are essentially bookmarked nodes in the voice menu hierarchy, which are stored for the respective user in a directly accessible, personal menu. We developed and tested VoiceMarks interfaces for two applications: a bus schedule information system and a cinema ticket purchase system. A comparative study of VoiceMarks and traditional interfaces of these applications showed that VoiceMarks can significantly improve the interaction between users and systems, in terms of time and number of keystrokes needed to locate a menu item, as well as regarding user satisfaction. In general, users responded very positively to the VoiceMarks interface. In addition, the study pointed to some useful modifications of VoiceMarks, which should be considered before employing the system in a commercial setting.


Pourang Irani, Peer Shajahan and Christel Kemke. 2006. VoiceMarks: restructuring hierarchical voice menus for improving navigation. International Journal of Speech Technology, 9(3--4), 75-94.

Bibtext Entry

@ARTICLE { irani06c,
    AUTHOR = { Pourang Irani and Peer Shajahan and Christel Kemke },
    DOI = { 10.1007/s10772-008-9007-3 },
    JOURNAL = { International Journal of Speech Technology },
    TITLE = { VoiceMarks: restructuring hierarchical voice menus for improving navigation },
    YEAR = { 2006 },
    VOLUME = { 9 },
    NUMBER = { 3--4 },
    PAGES = { 75--94 },


Pourang Irani

Pourang Irani

Canada Research Chair
at University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus

As well as: , Christel Kemke