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By Mark Atterby

talking-on-the-phoneDespite being the channel customers love to hate IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is still growing and is predicted to be worth $2.78 billion by 2017, according to a 2012 report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA)[i]. The growth is being driven by outbound IVR to deliver important notifications and proactive customer service functions.

IVR has had a mixed history, on one hand reducing call wait times and improving overall efficiencies and service levels, on the other, driving customers to switch to competitors.

We’re all familiar with the experience of having to navigate through a complex and confusing IVR menu to finally be put through to the wrong department or service or for the call to drop out. The experience leaves you frustrated. Badly designed IVR systems may have contributed to bad customer experiences more than any other channel. 

Outbound IVR allows organisations to proactively and automatically engage customers through a variety of channels such as automated voice calls, SMS messages, email or social media posts with personalised communications.

Key areas in IVR development in recent years, that are altering the previous negative perceptions of this self-service technology, have been in Outbound IVR and Visual IVR.

Outbound IVR

Outbound IVR allows organisations to proactively and automatically engage customers through a variety of channels such as automated voice calls, SMS messages, email or social media posts with personalised communications. Providing immediate, faster and real-time information and services to customers Calls can range from personalised, event-triggered notifications and two-way interactions to broadcast messages to hundreds or even thousands of customers.

It can be used in a variety of situations including:

  • Sending emergency notifications,
  • Personalised offers and promotions
  • Travel-related notifications
  • Problem reporting
  • Change notifications (account status, billing, rates)
  • Shipping notifications

Visual IVR

Steve Morrell, founder and principal analyst of ContactBabel, an analyst firm for the contact centre industry, highlights how smartphones and tablets can give companies the option of offering visual representations of their IVR menus[ii]. This can enhance the customer experience as most people find it easier to read and select options in text and visual format than to listen to it being spoken.

Visual IVR presents customers with a menu driven interface to the IVR system which is available from a website or mobile app.  Visual IVR can be used to send video or push other content. This content can be educational or for marketing purposes or to assist the customer’s self-service requirement in some way.

Visual IVR allows companies to connect their traditional contact centre channels to new mobile platforms, enhancing their ability to serve customers. Visual IVR can be implemented with existing DMTF technology and IVR systems, requiring few modifications.

[i] http://www.speechtechmag.com/Articles/Editorial/FYI/Strong-Growth-Projected-for-IVR-Market-79616.aspx.

[ii] http://www.enterpriseappstoday.com/call-centers/smartphones-will-boost-ivrs-customer-service-image.html.
April 21, 2015
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