February 07, 2012
Adding a Visual to the IVR - Will it Happen?
Long before Internet Explorer captured our attention on a first search through the new technology that was the Web, the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system offered a similar function. The IVR didn’t take you on a journey through cyberspace, but it did connect callers to information contained in an organization’s databases.
While IE has been left to fend for its share of the market against Chrome and Firefox, the IVR has been left to audio operation. And, as this Plum Voice blog highlights, it doesn’t offer a visual interaction opportunity. If researchers at the IBM (News - Alert) Almaden Research Center succeed in their quest, however, that could soon change.
The move toward enabling IVR to be a visual experience in addition to an audio interaction is a key initiative for Min Yin and Shumin Zhai. The two have launched a series of experiments designed to focus on the benefits of augmenting telephone voice menus with “coordinated visual displays and keyword search.
While the IVR may have been created to streamline processes for the caller and eliminate the need for live operators within the organization, the result is not always a better experience for those involved. In fact, Yin and Zhai refer to the experience of dealing with an IVR as “touchtone hell”, something that generated enough animosity that they wanted to try and do something about it.
What they are referring to is the difficulty and frustration that callers can often experience when interacting with an IVR that lacks the proper organization or intelligence to route their call correctly or provide the desired information. That stated, not every IVR is created equal and some have been shown to deliver a better experience for the customer than others.
According to Plum Voice, the poorly designed IVR, or those that hinder the flow of calls rather than help the caller, has been a frustration at least once for every consumer. When that happens, the frustration contributes to the perception the consumer has for the company owning the IVR – not a quality connection – no pun intended.
To improve the overall experience, Yin and Zhai have organized their research into a report, The Benefits of Augmenting Telephone Voice Menu Navigation with Visual Browsing and Search. In it, they suggest incorporating visuals on the screens of cell phones to provide an improved experience for the caller. And, given the size of the screen on a typical cell phone or smartphone, why not?
After all, wouldn’t it be better to see your options on a phone tree than to listen to them, finding that you have forgotten option 3 by the time you listen to option 8? Plus, you’d be able to see your desired option faster, thereby spending less time on the call.
Is this technology right around the corner? Let’s hope so and we can look forward to fewer minutes spent in the trees and more time spent slinging some Angry Birds!
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny