IVR Systems May Have Seen Better Days
November 17, 2010
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology has contributed much benefit to the companies that deploy it and the customers that use it. The interesting thing is that IVR has had its peaks and valleys, just like every other technology. As captured in the Destination CRM piece, to understand the need for IVR systems today, let’s take a look at where we have been.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.
IVR systems fist became useful in the 1970s as companies were seeking a way to cost-effectively automate simple services on the telephone – the ubiquitous communication network of the time.
Today, the communication channels are extensive, putting increased demand on IVR systems to expand their capability to continue to deliver value on all platforms. One very obvious change has been the mobile Web. As this has now moved into the mainstream, 22.7 percent of households in the U.S. have eliminated their landline phones.
This consumer base now relies only on their mobile phone as their only telecommunications channel. With this increase in mobile devices, consumers are also demanding more connectivity and continuity, creating the “always-connected” customer. Interestingly, this always-connected customer does not want to talk to an IVR system when he or she can have self-service applications on the smartphone that are capable of highly interactive touch, text and talk interactions to find the answers and solutions needed.
An increasing number of consumers want to launch applications through a touch screen and rely on voice search to discover and access the services that a live agent might otherwise provide. Live agents are still available, but accessed through an icon only when necessary. This new approach to communication raises the bar for customer self-service that IVR systems are not designed to meet.
As a result, IVR systems are declining in the number of implementations and next generation self-service solutions are emerging – rich phone applications (RPAs).An exceptional customer experience can be created by RPAs as they are driven by the same applications that live agents access today when speaking with a customer. These applications may include CRM, business process management, and knowledge management. RPAs are equipped with voice-search capabilities, as well as multimodal capabilities on a new generation of smartphones.
The reality in today’s market is that the always-connected customer demands connectivity and continuity in all devices, from every place and within every relationship. To meet these new standards, companies must re-evaluate their technology spending and their allocation of resources. This focus may drive decision makers to decide to not invest in IVR systems improvement and instead consider replacing those systems with rich phone applications.
Edited by Juliana Kenny