“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
Frankly, IVR or Interactive Voice Response has become inefficient, mostly due to a changing of the technological tides. “If a caller has a bad IVR experience, more than 80% won’t ever use that company again,” writes Conversational Receptionists.
As customer’s standards evolve alongside technology, so does their impatience and lack of interest in waiting in call queues. Since companies are unable to sufficiently engage their callers while they wait, alternative technologies like cloud contact centre solutions are quickly replacing them. While IVR has been in the social consciousness since the seventies, can it provide what the modern customer now requires?
The answer here may entail a handover from legacy tech like IVRs to more adaptive AI and cloud systems, where there’s more potential for personalised experiences.
“Companies are finding that systems meant to last decades can’t sufficiently handle the pressures of a next-gen, digital business ecosystem. AI has opened the door to vast new CX capabilities, yet most companies struggle to realize the technology’s full potential because of a dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchical architecture,” says Avaya.
CX before Siri
Computer telephony integration hasn’t been in existence that long as it was only in the eighties that IVR hardware became affordable for most companies. In the early 1990s, CTI quickly replaced DTMF signaling. By the 2000s, it was common to expect a robotic direct, open-end or mixed response prompt at the other end of a customer service call.
Historically, one of the most prolific users of IVR has been banks, as they rely on the system for customer engagement within a 24/7 cycle. However, the wait on the phone while being blasted with music has become the bane of many banking customer’s experiences. This has led to banks enacting a move into bot-based interaction.
“For customers, chatbots are a faster, more hassle-free way to accomplish necessary banking tasks like getting account updates. For banks, chatbots reduce the number and length of customer service calls, leading to reduced customer care costs,” writes Keith Armstrong from Abe AI.
The future of CX
These days a successful customer experience is inextricably linked to increasing revenue for brands in the race for customer loyalty.
As IVRs lose their competitive edge, largely driven by their contribution to higher abandonment (more than 40%), alternatives have risen.
In a world where we speak to virtual assistants named Alex and Siri, customers and now brands expect the same level of dynamic tech elsewhere.
So what does the future look like for CX? Firstly, IVR is probably not going to make it. While it served its purpose and segmented the masses, it is unable to deliver the kind of personal touch that cloud platforms, with a bit of help from AI, can produce. These days customer data is as good as gold and brands need concise analytics to reach that quarterly goal. Features like multi-database analytics, trigger messaging and predictive routing all fall under the umbrella of cloud communication, but are far beyond the capabilities of the IVR.
As the artificial integrates into every moment of our lives, keeping up with the pack is necessary for brands to grow exponentially — no-one likes being the last one in the queue.