Interactive voice response (IVR) is a kind of technological advancement, which, as the name suggests, usually allows a computer to interact with human beings. IVR systems are among the tools that you can love due to the pros it offers your business, or hate due to how poorly it has seemed to evolve despite the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications.
One of the downfalls of IVR, according to industry insiders, is that some systems don’t use “context awareness.” For example, if you frequently call into a specific business, the computer should be intelligent enough to remember your phone number and specifics about your call, like if you speak Spanish, or at the very least, your name. Too many systems today are a bit archaic in that customers have to wade through a sea of pressing numbers to get to where they need to be, and even then it isn’t always successful.
Probably the biggest disadvantage of using an IVR is that most people hate talking to machines. There is a correlation to having higher hang-up rates when an unintelligent IVR is in use. Industries that may do the most business with senior members might be finding that their demographic is off-put by IVR; the less technologically savvy customer may have a hard time following telephone menus and lengthy instructions.
The goal of most IVR systems is to allow customers to serve themselves by automating the calling process. The technology uses either touch-tone or speech-recognition technology to answer customer questions, handle their requests or point them in the right direction, all without having an employee speak with them directly.
IVR needs to get on board with all of the other “smart” technology that exists today; relying on the latest speech recognition solutions, it should be able to predict intent and best next action in real-time based on the caller’s context, and it should utilize what we all use these days to communicate: the Web. By combining voice with rich visual content, offering call back, or even moving to chat ensures unified, consistent, and contextual customer engagement across channels and devices.
By getting with the times, IVR technology can be a powerful tool, thus acting as a digital engine for improving customer engagement.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson