IVR is Dead, Long Live IVR

Cory Bennett

IVR as we know it is dead, gone, irrelevant - pick an adjective. Studies show consumers’ increasing frustration with automated telephony systesm; they take too long, they don’t route their call properly. In short, conventional IVR doesn’t help.

That doesn’t mean it’s going away, though.

"Adding more live agents is not the answer it simply isn’t a sustainable model," said Patrick Nguyen, CTO at Voxify, adding that 65 percent of individuals are in favor of a more personalized IVR if it increases customer service.

"Conventional IVR is the most common form of IVR today, one with limited conversation skills, static call flows and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to service," Nguyen told CMIQ. "Intelligent IVR is a new approach to customer care. It leverages enterprise data and knowledge of previous interactions to recognize callers, anticipate their service request and resolve their issues quickly and efficiently."

Nguyen recently presented a webinar, "IVR is Dead, Long Live IVR!" describing the benefits and feasibility of implementing an intelligent IVR system. Nguyen joined CMIQ later to chat about his presentation, but you can access the full, free webinar here.

A car rental company recently upgraded its IVR system. Nguyen described the difference between a conventional call to a company and an "intelligent" call to the company. A conventional call routes the caller through the same number of menus each time, resulting in a guaranteed interaction of well over a minute.

"Contrast this with an intelligent interaction," Nguyen said. "When a known customer calls in, the IVR will identify them, and if they have an upcoming reservation it will present a personalized greeting like, ‘It’s great to hear from you, John. Are you calling about your upcoming pickup at Denver International Airport on Sunday, June 19th?"

Chances are, the IVR's prediction is correct. Based on information the intelligent IVR system has at its disposal - the number you’re calling from, when and why you last called, where and when your most recent reservation was made - it can accurately predict why you’re calling almost every time. In under 20 seconds, your issue is thus resolved.

If you have repeat callers who show consistent patterns of behavior, Nguyen believes most companies will save money and increase revenue through intelligent IVR implementation, despite initial costs.

"Intelligent IVR reduces the need for live agents," he said, adding that in the long run it increases customer experience. "We’re closer to intelligent interaction than you may think. Intelligent IVRs have been deployed by a number of market leaders for long enough that success stories and ROI results are starting to trickle out. And once customers become familiar with intelligent interactions, they won’t tolerate the inferior service provided by conventional IVRs."