Interactive Voice Response Market Continues Growing Quickly in 2012
May 23, 2012
By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are expected to become a $3 billion market by 2017, with hosted IVR systems gaining popularity among companies looking to avoid the struggle of maintaining their IVR, while at the same time looking to alleviate the struggles of their customers. What began as a way to provide after-hours support to customers of banks and airlines has now grown to become a leading market in customer service technology. Though countless commercials argue that IVR experiences are more frustrating than helpful, the clips of customers shouting into their receivers or speaking extremely slowly, only to be misrouted or told to repeat themselves, may soon be a thing of the past.
IVR systems are put in place for multiple reasons, but generally to improve customer experience. Providing a good customer experience helps companies to increase customer loyalty, which can lead to a decrease in loss of business and an increase in consumer spending. Have you ever seen those commercials offering current customers cash rewards for every friend they refer? Putting an IVR in place will ultimately do the same thing, without the cost: increased customer loyalty in turn increases in likelihood of customers to recommend their friends.
IVR systems operate on the idea of reducing a customer’s effort. Making a process seem effortless, or at least less of a hassle, is the key behind this quickly growing market. In today’s economy a company’s need for loyal customers is paramount, and that is one reason why many IVR systems which were previously maintained internally are now being replaced by a newer concept: hosted, or cloud-based IVRs.
Current technologies associated with Integrated Voice Response are Natural Language Understanding technology, which is used in the well-known Skype (News - Alert) and Siri, as well as Text-to-Speech, Speech Recognition, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), and Voice Biometrics, which can identify a caller’s voice in order to pull up their file. All these separate technologies are now working together in a single system to get customer questions answered as clearly and quickly as possible.
Another benefit of IVRs, hosted or not, is customers will no longer feel they are constrained by a list of a few menu choices. That moment of “What I want is not on the menu, what do I do?” and the subsequent picking of whichever option sounds closest to your needs is completely eliminated.
So if IVR systems are so great, is one (hosted) better than the other (not-hosted)? Well, sort of. According to officials at Interact Inc., a provider of IVR systems, “With hosted IVR solution, small and medium businesses can focus on their application innovation, and let us handle everything else.”
Services available at Interact because of IVR technology include advanced VoiceXML (News - Alert), multiple call flows supported, unlimited language support, unified messaging, and biometric security. Some of the popular usages of IVR technology in social networking include Voxer, which enables you to turn your phone into a walkie-talkie, and SoundCloud, used to record music.
Edited by Juliana Kenny