Methods and apparatus for activating telephone services in response to speech are described. A directory including names is maintained for each customer. A speaker dependent speech template and a telephone number for each name, is maintained as part of each customer's directory. Speaker independent speech templates are used for recognizing commands. The present invention has the advantage of permitting a customer to place a call by speaking a person's name which serves as a destination identifier without having to speak an additional command or steering word to place the call. This is achieved by treating the receipt of a spoken name in the absence of a command as an implicit command to place a call. Explicit speaker independent commands are used to invoke features or services other than call placement. Speaker independent and speaker dependent speech recognition are performed on a customer's speech in parallel. An arbiter is used to decide which function or service should be performed when an apparent conflict arises as a result of both the speaker dependent and speaker independent speech recognition step outputs. Stochastic grammars, word spotting and/or out-of-vocabulary rejection are used as part of the speech recognition process to provide a user friendly interface which permits the use of spontaneous speech. Voice verification is performed on a selective basis where security is of concern.