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IVR Technology: Why Keeping It Simple Is Best

This article was updated on July 16, 2021

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, companies need to leverage technology solutions in order to keep up with competitors and the overall market. Interactive voice response—more commonly known as IVR technology—is one such solution. IVR has been continuously updated over the years, and today it offers the capability to quickly and easily add new functionality to existing systems. While the market has certainly had time to mature, companies will continue to invest in IVR technologies as they seek to automate customer service and improve the customer experience.

Rather than dealing with a major software upgrade to an on-premises IVR solution, a developer can work with publicly available code scripts on GitHub to augment an existing IVR technology stack in the cloud and capture call event data and voice recordings. The developer can then use these recordings to gain insight into the customer service function. In building a better IVR able to gather more actionable intelligence, the business can automate the service call process, complement it with appropriate self-service options, and offer a better overall customer experience.

A Simple IVR Use Case

According to Customer Think, 73 percent of customers express interest in the ability to solve product or service issues by themselves. With that statistic in mind, a simple IVR use case boils down to this: A developer can quickly and easily add calling-tree options to an established IVR phone-call flow without having to implement or rebuild a traditional IVR system. By creating self-service capabilities through such systems, a company can combine traditional customer support solutions with IVR to enable customers to be able to resolve issues on their own time in their own way.

For example, an airline reservation center can empower customer self-service by offering an IVR option at the front end, using a voice-based prompt to allow customers to press a number on their mobile touchscreen keypad to have their boarding pass sent directly to them via SMS. This voice self-service workflow bypasses the contact center and conserves finite live agent resources for hands-on, higher-value actions such as trying to create a better traveler experience by helping passengers with canceled or delayed flights. Customers can address issues on their own and airlines have more time to attend to more pressing customer concerns.

How It Works

Implementing IVR isn’t as tricky as it may seem. A company can bolt simple IVR onto an already-existing voice application and then connect that to a local or toll-free virtual phone number, which the business will encourage its customers to use. To streamline things even further, businesses should consider a virtual number that supports an SMS use case so that customers can text the same number with questions if voice contact doesn’t seem warranted. Using the same number for voice and message communications also creates a more consistent customer experience, building brand loyalty and benefiting the company overall.

When a customer calls the IVR number, they will be greeted with a previously recorded or text-to-speech response asking them to select from a menu of self-service options. Using their phone keypad, the customer will choose the option that best applies to them. They can complete most ordinary tasks with this voice-driven IVR workflow. TechTarget notes that, if necessary, IVR can allow the customer to record their voice, which can be quickly transcribed and put through sentiment analysis. The technology will then transfer the call to the appropriate display workstation, where an agent could review data related to the customer’s situation and address their concerns directly.

The Future of IVR Technology

In recent years, IVR has been used in a variety of ways for a variety of use cases. For example, voice recognition has been tried in traditional IVR systems with mixed results and customer frustration: As TechTarget reports, the technology does not always recognize the customer’s questions, perhaps because the caller’s question does not exactly match anything in the system. But with the advent of AI and natural language processing (NLP), IVR should continue to improve through the next decade or so.

For example, utilization of speech-recognition-driven IVR can decrease the average call length by between 30 and 50 percent compared to menu-driven, touchtone IVR, according to No Jitter. Since nearly 82 percent of customers express a desire for “conversational” IVR that will allow them to express their inquiries in their own words, improving IVR to include such integrations will only continue to improve the customer experience.

No Jitter also notes that IVR could become an app-based technology in the future. A customer clicks on a URL that a company messages them, taking them to a mobile web page with all the same options available as in the IVR. According to Customer Think, this so-called visual IVR use case is likely to be used by 55 percent of customers who are presented with the option.

With a CPaaS voice API, a simple IVR use case can be implemented in only very few lines of programming code, obviating any need to deploy a separate system and make agents or development teams learn new skill sets. By utilizing the simple IVR use case, a developer can continue to use the programming language of their choice—and both employees and customers will benefit from it.

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