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'Seeing' is Believing: IVR on Smartphones is a Bold Leap Forward
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'Seeing' is Believing: IVR on Smartphones is a Bold Leap Forward

April 30, 2014

  By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor

As anyone who has tried to navigate an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system can attest, it can be an exercise in frustration as you try over and over again to listen to the recording and try to make an intelligent selection. That’s why a new idea in IVR – visual menus on a smartphone – is starting to gain a lot of traction.

According to a report by Editor Ann All on Enterprise Apps Today, the main problem with IVR is its limitations.

“Traditional IVRs’ audio nature was the problem, limiting its usefulness and making it a sometimes-frustrating self-service experience,” All noted in her report. And according to Steve Morrell, founder and principal analyst of ContactBabel (News - Alert), an analyst firm for the contact center industry, the problem goes deeper. "A trade-off between functionality and usability" with voice activated IVR often leaves consumers navigating a lengthy and bewildering array of menu options, he said.

But there is hope.

“Smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets give companies the option of offering visual representations of their IVR menus. This can greatly improve the customer experience,” Morrell said, because most people find it far quicker to read text than to listen to it being spoken. Visual IVR is one of the trends covered in ContactBabel's "The Inner Circle Guide to Self-Service," published last month.

Besides the obvious ease of use, All also pointed out the cost savings to businesses.

“Visual IVR also helps keep customer service costs down because self-service IVR is less expensive than interactions that require input from live agents,” she noted, adding, “ContactBabel found the average cost of a self-service IVR session is 98 cents (in 2011, the last time it produced this statistic) vs. $7.76 for a phone call with a contact center agent, $3.37 for an agent email and $3.52 for a Web chat session.”

In short, while IVR works for some people, making a visual IVR menu available can save time, money and patience. The end result might well be a more satisfied – and hence more loyal – customer. 

Edited by Alisen Downey
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