March 20, 2012
Touch-tone IVR or Speech? Try Both, Linked by a Robust Speech Transition Plan
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
While speech is the most natural human interaction method, some speech technology hasn't been quite as natural. Many companies, seeking to serve their customers better or not be perceived to be pushing “old-fashioned” technology, immediately switched to speech recognition when it comes to their interactive voice response (IVR) solution. But that in itself became problematic, in many cases.
Speech recognition, while improving, still isn't perfect. It doesn't work well in noisy areas or when there is a less-than-optimal cell phone connection. Customers, used to a touch-tone IVR and used to making their regular menu choices, have been frustrated when faced with less than perfect speech solutions, according to a new white paper from USAN called “Increase the Value of Your Interactions.”.
Contact center organizations often overlook their customer’s needs in attempting to meet the demands and goals of their management teams and ultimately their business, says USAN (News - Alert). While nobody is saying you shouldn't transition to speech, USAN recommends you do it gradually, and give your customer options based on their traditional usage of your IVR and their preferences.
“Enterprises must design and implement IVR and ASR [advanced speech recognition] solutions that offer the caller options that they prefer to use,” writes the company in the white paper. “The IVR framework should include transitioning users between speech and touch-tone based on specified metrics and offering caller profiles that present them with a speech or legacy touch-tone interaction. The IVR intelligence should also provide the information a customer wants without asking them, such as their balance, each time they call the toll-free number.”
The secret to striking a balance is to design solutions that are customer-centric rather than business-centric. Companies must evaluate both their internal goals AND their customers' needs and preferences. Then, they'll be better placed to begin the process of speech transitioning.
“With speech transitioning, customer specific profiles track customer communication preferences – either through speech or touch-tone to facilitate the transaction. An enterprise will store all of the customers’ preferences and leverage the integration of the back-end systems, IVR and speech engines, putting the customer in control of the interaction model.”
Customers can choose either speech or touch-tone, or even both: with a robust solution, they can switch between speech-only and touch-tone-only modes with a series of key presses that can be used at any point during a call without limitation, says USAN. This way, customers can craft the kind of interaction that's best for them based on their needs and preferences. And few customers ever complain from having been offered too many choices.
To get the whole story, read USAN's complete white paper here.
Edited by Juliana Kenny