Using an IVR System Creates More Messaging Trends, Improves Availability: Interview
March 02, 2010
By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor
Automated messaging through both voice and e-mail or text is fast becoming a very popular tool, for two key reasons: it saves money and enables higher quality service by alerting customers, especially those who are mobile, of issues that impact them.
An alternative to live agent call handing, utilizing an IVR system with automated voice is more available as an on-premise solution as well as a hosted service or messaging service; this last delivery method is attractive because it provides immense scalability while minimizing up-front capital and ongoing IT costs.
TMCnet recently interviewed Mark Friedman, Chief Marketing and BusinessDevelopment Officer at SoundBite Communications (News - Alert), an IVR system provider, to get his take on automated messaging services trends and issues.
TMCnet: What messaging services trends is SoundBite seeing? Is the demand growing, shrinking, the needs shifting, and what are the drivers?
Mark Friedman (News - Alert): SoundBite is seeing several fundamental paradigm shifts in the market. First, consumer focused companies are moving from a reactive approach to customer communications to one that is much more proactive. These leading organizations understand that proactively communicating with consumers at all stages of the customer lifecycle enables them to build trusted, lifelong profitable relationships.
The second major shift is towards mobile communications. Today, there are twice as many mobile numbers than landlines in the U.S.: and the numbers are even more skewed globally.
Furthermore, text messaging has entered mainstream with annual usage continuing to grow at a triple digit pace. These two trends fuel a global Proactive Customer Communications market estimated to be $1.3B and growing at 12 percent annually.
Among our 200+ clients are 50 Fortune 500 companies – many of which have shared with us the high value of our Proactive Customer Communications offering. For example, a leading retailer used a combination of voice and e-mail messaging to increase consumer loyalty point spending by more than 50 percent, resulting in multi-million dollars of incremental revenue. Also, a leading bank leveraged our text messaging capabilities to improve its collections efficiency more than 100 percent. And, in addition a global financial services leader saved millions of dollars in operating costs deploying our voice, text and e-mail solution.
TMCnet: What has been the impact of FTC (News - Alert) and now the FCC regulations on automated voice notifications for marketing purposes on messaging services demand and types of services, and on SoundBite in particular?
MF: SoundBite has been a huge proponent for organizations to understand, and be able to honor, the communication preferences of their customers. The FTC and potential FCC (News - Alert) regulations on automated voice messages for marketing purposes certainly highlight the importance of this view. During Q4 2009, SoundBite announced our Preference Management solution which, among a number of benefits, addresses regulatory-driven issues. We have already deployed our first client on this solution and regulatory issues have brought us a number of other interested prospects.
TMCnet: What is new with and what is coming down the road from SoundBite?
MF: SoundBite continues to invest to ensure our clients have access to a platform that will address their current and future needs. In December 2009, we announced a new feature of SoundBite Engage called the Dialog Engine. This feature applies rules-based logic to enable truly intelligent, interactive communications between our clients and their customers. While many competitors offer platforms that enable 1-way alerts, we believe SoundBite is unmatched in our ability to offer intelligent, interactive voice, text and e-mail messaging.
Another investment is our fully-documented Web Services API: which provides a powerful array of capabilities to our clients ranging from Computer Telephony Integration to real-time, event-based messaging.
While most of our revenue today is generated in North America, our clients are demanding our service offering globally. Over the past year, we have invested in preparing our product for the global marketplace and believe our investment will be well served.
As we look towards 2010, our clients can look forward to SoundBite continuing to evolve our Proactive Customer Communications offering to provide a powerful tool to design, execute, measure and optimize customer communications programs.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Kelly McGuire