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Interviewees Indicate that IVR is Not the Main Concern, but One Key Piece of a Bigger Picture
Self-service in customer care is moving to the web and social media as the Millennials take to mobile devices with a do-it-yourself mentality. However, by no means is the phone channel going away. When self-service fails them, customers turn to the contact center, which typically means journeying through that perennial front door, the Interactive Voice Response application. Still, complaints about this channel abound. This market insight explores the attitudes around IVR, the benefits of its use, and what solution providers are doing to make this happen.
Benefits of Refreshing the IVR—Customers Speak Out
Self-service in customer care is moving to the web and social media as the Millennials take to mobile devices with a do-it-yourself mentality. However, by no means is the phone channel going away. When self-service fails them, customers turn to the contact center, which typically means journeying through that front door, the Interactive Voice Response application. In addition, in certain areas of the world, IVR is still a hot commodity as a way of providing self-service in areas where Internet access is scarce, yet mobile phones plentiful. Still, complaints about this channel abound. This market insight explores the attitudes around IVR, the benefits of its use, and what solution providers are doing to make this happen.
Frost & Sullivan research shows that although other channels are expanding in scope, when people fail to get the response they seek through non-voice channels, they turn to the phone and the contact center for help. But unlike the first two decades of IVR, when making transactions through a touch-tone interface was acceptable, consumers now expect more. As new channels improve, such as mobile applications or corporate websites, customers grow accustomed to greater levels of control, information, and self-service. Hence the title of this market insight is no mistake. We have all called a company only to be greeted with an IVR that says, "Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed" when they haven't in years. More frustrating is encountering an IVR in which the wording is "may have changed". In fact, that prompt was one of many complaints registered by consumers that pole-vaulted IVR into the least liked channel in customer care. Consider these others:
- Asking callers to provide data to the IVR, such as an account number, only to have the agent ask for it again once the caller is transferred
- Too many menu choices
- Wrong or inadequate menu choices
- Long and confusing prompts
- Changing requirements or capabilities on the user interface (for instance allowing speech and DTMF, then switching to just one)
- Making callers feel that the IVR is strictly there as an impediment to speaking with an agent
- Making it difficult or nearly impossible to get to an agent
- Not carrying context and content from the IVR to the agent. Yet IVR trundles on. In fact, Frost & Sullivan estimates that greater than % of ACDs are front-ended by an IVR application, some of which have been up-and-running for decades. While it's true that the vast installed base of IVR systems and applications have gone through many changes and upgrades since the mid-eighties when they were first introduced, it is Frost & Sullivan's belief that classic IVR has been lost in the shuffle to add new channels of
Taking a Perceptual Temperature Reading
It is Frost & Sullivan's belief that an organization's customer service infrastructure is only as good as its worst performing channel, since customers don't differentiate one channel from another when taking stock of the total Customer Experience. For this Market Insight we therefore interviewed solution providers and customers to see how they view modifying, upgrading, or replacing existing IVR applications, and whether IVR is even a priority compared to other channels. We wanted to gauge the perception of the necessity of having IVR, and how it fits into a multi and omni-channel strategy.
To start the discussion we asked solution providers the following questions:
- Is upgrading IVR a priority or irrelevant compared to other channels?
- Do customers come into sales situations talking about IVR?
- How are vendors positioning IVR tuning or replacement?
- Do vendors have targeted education campaigns and sales campaigns to replace old IVR applications?
- Do vendors have campaigns to educate companies as to the expanded capabilities IVR has to offer?
- Are customers seeing a decline in IVR usage compared to other channels?
- Do customers think it is worth investing in the IVR channel?
- Are there best practices around IVR sales?
- Our discussions with customers also included the following:
- Is upgrading IVR a priority or even on the radar?
- When you work with your solutions provider, either reaching out because you want to upgrade or add something, or they approach you with a sales pitch, is IVR prominent in the discussion or not?
- Are you seeing a decline in usage of IVR for other channels?
- Do you think it is worth investing in the IVR channel?
- Have you upgraded or replaced your IVR and if so, what kind of functionality did you add? Is it speech-enabled, tied in with outbound campaigns, or personalized for the
- Is upgrading or replacing your IVR a lower budgetary item than adding other channels like social or mobile?
- Do you pass all the information gathered in the IVR to the agent?
Reality Check–IVR Grows Up
The installed base of IVR applications has grown exponentially for a reason. There are tens of thousands of IVR applications that are perfectly well designed and do a good job. Take prescription refill, appointment confirmation, or credit card activation, for instance. All of these applications field thousands of calls a day, doing simple things really well without the need of an agent, while diverting calls away from agents. Many are simple, intuitive and don't frustrate callers. But others, while the technology is stable, the user interface could use some work. Fortunately, significant advances have been made in IVR usability, functionality, and the ability to evoke a company's brand image. Those companies that field calls through an IVR that haven't taken advantage of the last decade of innovation are missing out on
considerable new benefits.
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