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Can Apple's Siri Change the Way IVR Serves the Customer?
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Can Apple's Siri Change the Way IVR Serves the Customer?

December 19, 2011

  By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has long been a key tool for self-service and to allow the free flow of common information between a company and its customers. With the arrival of the Apple (News - Alert) Siri, IVR took on a whole new persona, changing the way we interact with technology and bringing artificial intelligence closer to the masses.

This recent Angel blog focused on the impact Siri will have in IVR and how it will likely change the way consumers view interactions based on speech technology. IVRs are still the most prevalent speech technologies and users will increasingly demand experiences that are more natural and intuitive. Those IVR vendors hoping to lead the industry will be able to readily respond to this demand.

The first step to identifying the path to success may be in understanding Siri’s key to success. The Angel blog asked a few questions to provide some clarification on why Apple has hit the jackpot once again. The first point is whether or not Siri offers a natural language interface. The basic answer is “yes,” while the practical answer is “no.” Siri can coax the user to ask the appropriate questions to provide the necessary answers, but the call center customer placing a call is rarely that specific.

Siri also offers some deep ties into the user’s personal data, which is key to its success. This is a quality feature any company would want, especially when handling large call volumes from a wide array of customers. Companies have a lot of data on their customers and the ability to access this information on the fly is key for any robust IVR to be successful.

Of course, the Siri is the star on the iPhone (News - Alert) 4S, not within the call center. This jump in IVR, however, will push the demand in the general industry to start making use of available caller data to create interfaces that are both practical and intuitive to ensure the IVR can make educated guesses on the caller’s reason for contacting the company and how best to handle his or her requests.

The first necessary step is to link the IVR with CRM and customer profiles, moving on to building dynamic systems with the ability to respond personally to different callers and situations in a manner that is both effective and efficient.

The key here is that a robust IVR should be able to utilize multiple technologies to create optimal interactions, even when customers are frustrated with the company. If the industry can respond effectively to the new list of demands regarding voice user interfaces, IVR will take on a whole new role within the call center and deliver improved value to the company and its customers.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf
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