Ford is keeping up with the dashboard arms race by beta-testing live operator assistance within its SYNC system. If the voice-controlled navigation fails to capire no matter how loudly you panic, it'll give you the opportunity to say "operator" and vent at a real-life human being instead. Of course, GM drivers already have this option via OnStar, and there's also the OnStar FMV for everyone else, but the premium annual subscription is a hefty $299. Meanwhile, SYNC costs just $60 per year after a three-year complimentary period. Some of those bucks will trickle down to Wisconsin-based MyAssist, whose operators are set to handle the incoming salvos on Ford's behalf. The question is, who can they call? Navigate to further details in the PR after the break.
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Ford Trials Complimentary Live Operator Assistance for SYNC Services; Free Business Search and Address Entry Support

• Ford is beta testing an Operator Assist feature for the cloud-based network of SYNC® Services, giving all registered Services users complimentary access to a live operator for help with business searches and address entry for turn-by-turn directions

• About 70 percent of calls to SYNC Services are for business searches and/or directions

• SYNC Services provides access to more than 14 million business listings

DEARBORN, Mich., June 11, 2011 – Getting directions or finding a business using SYNC® Services has become even easier thanks to a new feature called Operator Assist that allows users to instantly connect with a live person.

Operator Assist is only a voice command away, making it part of the growing list of cloud-based driver aids offered by Ford Motor Company. The new feature provides customers with the ability to safely connect with a live person who can quickly access information databases to help drivers get where they're going.

Operator Assist is currently in a beta test trial phase and being offered as a complimentary feature for registered users of SYNC Services. No additional software or hardware is needed.

"Ford is committed to continuously improving the ownership experience and delivering the level of connectivity that customers want," said Doug VanDagens, director, Ford Connected Services Solutions Organization. "By leveraging what's available in the cloud, we continue to innovate and improve our customers' experience without having to touch the vehicle or inconvenience the owner."

How it works
Cloud-based, on-demand, voice-activated SYNC Services provides access to information about traffic, news, sports, weather, horoscopes, stock quotes, and movie listings along with business searches and turn-by-turn directions.

Operator Assist is available for the directions and business search functions of SYNC Services. Seventy percent of all SYNC Services calls are for business search and directions, said David Gersabeck, product manager, SYNC Services.

Using advanced vehicle sensors, integrated GPS technology and comprehensive map and traffic data, the SYNC Services automated system delivers turn-by-turn directions to the user. Further, with access to more than 14 million business listings, SYNC Services' automated system directs users to the businesses they seek.

Now, with Operator Assist, at any time during a business search or directions interaction between the user and the SYNC Services automated system, the user can say, "Operator," confirm his or her request to speak with an operator, and connect to a live operator. This system gives Ford customers the choice of interfacing with a live operator or utilizing the interactive voice recognition system.

"Our customers asked for additional assistance in situations where their voice request was not understood," said Gersabeck. "If you want the most reliable user experience, enabling alternative methods for customers to access information will increase success, which is where Operator Assist factors into the equation."

In the event a user says an address or business that the automated system can't identify, the user will be prompted with the option to connect to a live operator. If the user confirms he or she would like to speak with an operator for further assistance, the system automatically connects the user to the live operator.

When a live operator assists with a business search, the user can choose to receive turn-by-turn directions to the business, receive a text message with name, address and phone number information about the business (applies to certain phone carrier networks), or be directly connected to the phone number of the business.

When a live operator assists with address entry, the user can have the directions sent directly to the vehicle.

"We want Ford SYNC Services customers to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can get where they're going or want to go," said Gersabeck. "Being able to connect with a live person at any time contributes to that peace of mind."

The live operator services are provided by MyAssist, a leading live assistance and telematics service company for individuals and businesses based in Stevens Point, Wis.