What is the relevance of IVR technology in a world where ‘voice’ is a diminishing part of the CX tool set?
John Greenwood, Head of Technology & Payments
As consumer habits change and adapt, there is little excuse not to feel enabled to address the challenges driven by customers growing preference to communicate with their fingers rather than their voices.
The automation of customer interactions is as lively a conversation now amongst the CX and contact centre communities as it always has been.
It was in the early 70’s that Theodore George “Ted” Paraskevakos, working at Bell Labs, developed the concept known as “Automated Voice Response” (AVR). His idea involved using touch-tone telephone keypads to interact with computer systems over telephone lines. His work laid the foundations for the development of the simple touch menus and the overlay of voice recognition systems that so many organisations use today as IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and we may finally be getting to the AVR solutions he intended (read on and I’ll tell you why).
What is the relevance of this technology in a world where ‘voice’ is a diminishing part of the CX tool set and contact centre operations you may ask?
It is hard to mention IVR without feeling tension, frustration, even damn right anger, when the technology is deployed badly. This is something we have all experienced to some extent or other, especially when so many of us are time poor and simply want to get the job done in 3 clicks or less. After 50 or so years of evolution and thinking, I do wonder why some organisations are so slow to change. Clearly some large enterprises have invested so much, and integrated so deeply, that a transformation project to address today’s imbalance of voice is seen as ‘super high risk’. Yet where historical investment is lower, there is little excuse not to feel enabled to address the challenges driven by customers growing preference to communicate with their fingers rather than their voices.
Many organisations are held back today because their customer engagement technology is rooted in the world of ‘telephony’. In this world IVR deployment and ‘change’ sits with the IT team and those supporting the ‘telephony’ environment. As a result, ‘change’ takes time and that costs money, the transformation required to take advantage current customer communication preferences mean ‘bolting on’ digital channel capability. ‘Bolting on’ is not a proper term the technical community use. They say “we have an API for that” but in reality, API’s are a very broad church and what the tech’ folk won’t tell you is how much API’s can restrict the flow of data. Which means that any future AI deployment to make sense of the organisations data flows, is looking at a restricted picture, increasing the risk of poor or ineffective decision making. All of which means that there are strong strategic, as well as tactical reasons, to get out of the muddy world of ‘telephony’ and walk boldly into the paved pathways and highways of today’s digital first world. For those that are still apprehensive, ‘telephony’ as Ted Paraskevakos knew it, became a series of 1’s and 0’s years ago.
Voice is now just another digital channel. As a digital channel, IVR simply becomes IR (Interactive Response).
As part of the drag and drop / no code CCaaS applications and ‘customer engagement platforms’, voice channel automation is a big component. New digitally driven contact centre tech’ gives organisations the autonomy and self-determination capability to set up voice driven IR data flows in almost any language, in any ‘voice’ and have those tested and deployed in minutes. Add to that AI (another broad church) and organisations find themselves in a position where the conversation is no longer about the transition from telephony (or voice) to digital, but from a digital organisation to an AI driven digital organisation. Which means that our future conversations will not be about Interactive Response but Intelligent Response…probably something closer to what Ted Paraskevakos actually had in mind when he developed his AVR technology 50 years or so ago!!!
Looking to strike the right balance in terms of your contact centre technology setup? Get in touch, we’d love to chat with you.