Updating IVR to Optimize Business Success: An Interview with Plum's President Matt Ervin
June 16, 2010
By Juliana Kenny, TMCnet Managing Editor
IVR systems were originally pioneered 30 years ago in response to enterprise desires to reduce call center costs. But new IVR and speech technologies can improve customer satisfaction, and are often critical in a competitive business climate.
This week, TMC (News - Alert) sat down with the President of PlumVoice, Matt Ervin, to find out exactly how his company maximizes the opportunities available in the IVR Systems industry.
TMC: How important is an optimized IVR system to business success?
M.E.: Business success is correlated with customer satisfaction, and a well-optimized IVR system is correlated with overall customer satisfaction.
Certainly poor IVR implementations cause frustration and negative word-of-mouth. On the other hand, companies who are afraid of using IVR at all fall into the trap of throwing too many bodies (call center agents) at the customer service problem. This drives up costs, which is reflected in end-user prices, and often forces call center personnel to deal with routine issues that are de-motivating. Providing quick customer service at peak call times can only be accomplished effectively with a good IVR solution. So, getting IVR just right, the 'Goldilocks' scenario is quite important.
TMC: Can you explain a bit more about the steps involved to achieve this Goldilocks scenario of optimal IVR?
M.E.: You want IVR vendor that is focused on the area and who can bring best-in-class technologies and insights to the problem continually. The technologies that Plum makes readily available are state-of-the-art, since we are specialists in the area. But moreover, we've found that one of the key steps to optimization is to have smart personnel who engage in a thorough discovery upfront and can then support the enterprise to the IVR design evolves over time. We use our judgment so that solutions satisfy the human equation, and result in increased customer satisfaction. Sometimes this can be accomplished with a redesigned touch-tone application, especially because we can easily connect backend databases to the IVR so that interactions with the consumer are personalized. And we do find opportunities to use speech recognition judiciously, but only when speech recognition is a natural fit for the dialog and will work well.
TMC: What types of applications would Plum optimize?
M.E.: We frequently optimize applications such as those for account information access, transaction processing, or outbound notification systems. Usually these applications come with web interfaces that enable non-technical personnel to manage and tune these applications as needed. We also offer tools to implement and manage IVR surveys, which can gather customer feedback instantly, and can be easily changed as the need arises.
Juliana Kenny is a TMCnet reporter and editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny