Allison Smith, The Voice of Asterisk, speaks about the evolution of Asterisk call-center industry


Allison Smith Allison Smith "The Voice of Asterisk", is an internationally-recognized professional voice talent, and one of the top telephone voices working today. If you've maneuvered through prompts while calling a Fortune 500 company, participated in a telephone customer satisfaction survey, signed onto a conference call, listened to the public airwaves, took an online training module, ordered a hotel wakeup call, or even received an automated call notifying you of an upcoming medical or dental appointment, chances are, you've heard Allison. Allison has voiced platforms for Vonage, Bell Canada, Sprint, Cingular, Verizon and Qwest, but she is most proud of her work as the Voice of Asterisk, voicing Asterisk prompts since its inception, and far into the future. Clients include Marriot Hotels, 3M, Pfizer, Toyota, Victoria's Secret, Bank of America and EBay among many others.

How have you seen Asterisk change since you started voicing the prompts almost 13 years ago, how has it evolved?
I think the biggest and most profound changes I've witnessed, being on the "front lines" of Asterisk and interacting directly with the community and recording their prompts, is the sheer vastness and variety of uses for Asterisk. I'm constantly astounded by the geography of where Asterisk ends up (every year at Astricon we seem to meet attendees from new places) and the uses for it seem to be limited only to imagination. On the practical side, since Asterisk is a framework for building communications applications, I'm seeing Asterisk being used more a "router" or a "bridge"; integrating other existing systems is a really seamless way. It "plays nicely" with other systems.

What feedback do you get from your voice customers as to their experiences with Asterisk? Do they still find it user-friendly?
Absolutely they do from the very first Astricon (in 2004), I remember hearing from attendees how straight-out-of-the-box easy it was to get up and running, and I'm still hearing that sentiment. From its ease of use, to the incredible support that users get, not only from Digium, but from the community at large I haven't talk to a single soul who felt stymied, frustrated, or that they didn't have expertise to rely on. It's all there.

What sorts of industries use your voice services to voice Asterisk prompts, and has that changed during your experience voicing for Asterisk?
I think it was when I voiced the IVR for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and a customer response survey for a large lingerie chain, on the same day, that it really struck me about how limitless the industries who run and deploy Asterisk can be. From automated calls to let registered sex offenders know that they are in parole violation, to notifications on board all the major cruise lines, informing ship-to-ship callers that they're racking up really big dough by calling each other; the types of industries which use Asterisk (either in the background or up front) are varied and vast. The open source nature also makes prompts turn up where I least expect it: I ordered a hotel wakeup call once, and it was me waking me up. Very surreal!

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