Verizon’s new 411 system: Is it an operator, or is it Darby?

Providence Business News
BOSTON – Next time you call 411, the friendly female voice giving you the number may just be Darby.

Verizon has enhanced its 411 system to make it more automated. Already, the prompt for the city and listing is a recording; now a speech-recognition technology allows the system to give callers an automated answer as well.

Verizon is using the new system to handle routine, frequently requested business and government listing requests, and when the listing is found, to deliver the number without the call ever reaching an operator. The voice callers will hear is Darby Bailey, a California actress known for making those recordings sound natural. The system can also handle somewhat more complex listings, but if a caller needs more than routine assistance, the call will go to an operator.

Verizon is now introducing Darby to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine customers. Her voice is already familiar in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, California, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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