While 2012 is likely to see a lot of new trends in customer service, several of the most important – personalized customer service, mobile customer service and smarter speech technology – may ultimately merge to change the interactive voice response (IVR) marketplace forever.
We have smartphones, smart meters and smart cars, but do we have smart IVRs? Not yet, but things may begin to change with the pending debut of new products from IVR companies like Personetics and Angel, American Banker is reporting. Financial services – always the deepest pockets in the customer service technology marketplace – may be the first to offer their customers these new “smart” IVRs.
So what's “smart” about them?
Mark Schwanhausser, a senior research director at Javelin Research, told American Banker that while the technologies are still in their early stages, it would behoove financial services organizations to make plans to combine existing customer and transaction data with speech recognition to deliver a more personalized and “intuitive” customer experience that spans mobile devices, landline phones and desktop and laptop computers.
“[Banks] can take data and what [they] know about customers to establish connections in ways they don't do today,” notes Schwanhausser.
While IVR technology has been around for a long time, it was far from “smart” in previous years, and it was often customers' least favorite method of interacting with a company. Companies that have an eye to organization can and must change that now. Today's and tomorrow's customer service solutions will radically improve the storage, access, organization and transport of customer data, and combine it with business analytics and cross-channel integration to give the financial institution more information on a customer at the point of contact.
So while your IVR today may look a lot different than it did 10 years ago (chances are, it's a Web service instead of a dusty box in the IT room), it also needs to act very differently than it did 10 years ago. “Press 1” menu trees that led customers in circles and treated each customer had better be things of the past...or else, so too will your customer relationships.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.
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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf