IVR Self Service Option – The Backbone of Customer Service

2nd December 2013 | By Mouseworld Now Correspondent |

VP-Strategic alliances-Knowlarity Communications-Manoj KumarInteractive Voice Recording or IVR technology accepts both voice and touch-tone keypad input and provide responses in the form of voice, email or fax output. IVR has successfully evolved from DTMF (or keypad input) to Automated Speech (ASR) with maturity of voice recognition engines and now serves as the backbone of various self service applications that help customers retrieve account and billing related information without any need of human intervention.

IVR is best used for answering queries that are routine in nature and require little or no processing. Some typical self service options offered to customers include account inquiry, pay by phone, complaint reporting, status inquiry, general company information and order tracking. As you can see for yourself, most queries are of the “fetch data” variety that can be handled by machines. The machine records user input – voice or keypad entry – looks up the database for matching entries, returning the result in text or voice format, for example, “Your balance is …”

IVR is basically the first line of customer service for routine queries. Used intelligently, it can serve as the backbone of your customer service option for a long time by providing innumerable competitive as well as operational advantages that are impossible to ignore in today’s dynamic market environment.

Since most of the grunt work (billing, accounts) is handled by IVR, you will need fewer front office executives for handling routine, every day customer service stuff, driving down cost – OPEX & CAPEX – because there will be fewer manpower and infrastructural requirements.

IVR frees your agent from routine customer queries related to billing, account information, payment processing, allowing them to concentrate more on complex queries, leading to better CSATs. Since your front office executives are freed from routine tasks they are able to devote more time and effort on problem solving rather than on queue management.

Since IVR will process most routine queries only complicated customer issues will land in the customer service queue. This mean that customer will be able to enjoy faster resolutions than before. Earlier, on a busy day, a typical customer service queue would have customer calling about billing problems as well as technical issues that would require extensive troubleshooting, leading to longer wait times.

With shorter queues, irate customers get quicker resolution, driving down dissatisfaction rates. It is often the irate customer, in a longish customer service queue, who is the one thinking about moving business to a rival company. Shorter queued drives down call wait times which lead to better resolution rates and happier customers.

With Automated Speed Recognition (ASR) it is now possible for machines to engage with human beings conversationally. This is the next big thing in the customer service landscape as it has the potential of changing how we talk and engage with machines in the future. Smarter algorithms coupled with an extensive database of commonly used words and phrases will allow humans to talk naturally to IVR systems, leading to fewer strains and fissures at the human – machine interaction level.

A lot of research and development has gone into making IVR the default customer service option. ASR is a step in this direction for improving the quality of machine – human interaction, so that customers can talk to machines naturally and in a conversational tone, without the fact that they are talking to a machine featuring prominently at the back of their mind. IVR acceptance rates are much higher now than ever before on the back of some excellent work in the world of IVR design. With ASR debuting strongly in the last few years or so, IVR is fast emerging as a default customer service option.


By Manoj Kumar, VP Strategic alliances at Knowlarity Communications

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