If Everyone Dislikes IVR Why Is It Still Around?

And in fact more useful than ever! Ever-changing customer demands, fierce competition along with globalization are pushing companies to focus on and adopt new or improved processes in managing their Customer Relationships.

One area that has gained huge importance over the years is interactive voice response (IVR), an integral part of the customer service relationship. The global market for Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems is projected to reach US$2.78 billion by 2017, mainly through the growth of outbound IVR in smaller and medium size businesses. Designed to cut down costs and improve system functionality and efficiency, companies have started to look at their IVR systems.

Most of the legacy IVR systems – Can be expensive to maintain, highly rigid and very difficult in addressing the fast changing customer service requirements many companies have. One of the ways to tackle this is to deploy new, open-standard IVR technologies such as VoiceXML. These new technologies enable companies to customize phone-based customer services to suite their requirements and are growing fast in prominence.

The spotlight on IVR -Has been mainly driven by companies re-focusing on customer retention, new customer acquisition, and customer satisfaction ratings. Contact centers increasingly need to invest in technologies and tools that help differentiate themselves, when under pressure from the economic recession.

Closer attention on measuring customer experience has highlighted some customer frustration ensuing emphasis an overwhelming majority (83%) of consumers feel IVR systems provide either no benefit at all or only a cost savings benefit to the company. Only 16% of consumers feel that IVR systems benefit those reports a study undertaken by the New York University

According to consumers, a key shortcoming of IVR systems is that they are difficult to use. On an ease-of-use scale, IVR systems scored lower than any of the other service options and was the only option perceived as difficult to use. In addition, IVR was the least preferred service option with only 15% of consumers choosing IVR as their preferred option.

Live Help – While past studies have indicated consumers desire increased automation in self-service, this study reveals consumers still view live help as being far easier to use than automated assistance. Additionally, the survey found that the majority of consumers (67%) still prefer live agent-provided service over other service options.

The study reinforces why companies are seeking customer care solutions that provide a better consumer. There is a significant, measurable experience gap between a customer service agent and IVR.

We shouldn’t be surprised that customers get frustrated when they come across the many poorly-designed IVR applications implemented by some call center operators to help reduce their own costs. The fault doesn’t lie with the IVR technology or with speech-enabled systems. It’s almost always because there’s been a lack of real thought about how to match an application to what customers really want to achieve when they call an organization.

Customers like to talk to real people –given the choice. So when it comes to setting up an IVR, help them get to the right person as fast as possible. Over-automated systems frustrate customers and affect their desire to do business with you. After multiple menus and transfers, by the time they get to your service representatives, they are likely to be upset and difficult for your employees to deal with. This is a lose/lose situation for everyone.

Convenience – However when customers just want basic information like their account balance, the status of their order, or just want to pay a bill over the phone, they really like the convenience of automated options that are fast, simple and convenient. Not only do they love it, but today, they expect it. To customers, a good IVR shows them you are a company that is equipped to help them, even after hours. No matter your company size, IVR just makes you look good.

It is important that your IVR aligns seamlessly with current processes and technologies.

When it isn’t aligned, it can create higher call volume, reduced efficiency, and back-end overhead, defeating the entire purpose of implementing the IVR in the first place.

PSS are experts – At the installation, integration and optimization of IVR and other contact center technology. PSS modify or extend existing IVR applications no matter who initially wrote them. Often performance tuning (user interface or otherwise) can significantly improve the results from an existing application for a relatively modest investment in time and money.

Legacy applications – Can be converted to VoiceXML to transition to next generation IVR systems. Or when there’s some additional need that triggers application work- such as adding speech or a significant change or expansion of functionality. PSS align with your IT practices and tools

New Applications - Are built in industry standard VoiceXML with plenty of expertise building applications for legacy platforms such as Nortel/Periphonics VPS and MPS systems, Envox, Intervoice, Edify, or Syntellect.

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Posted by eckoh at 11:07 AM on Jan 29, 2012

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