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Did you know that IVR systems have been around for five decades?
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. Initially, it was a touch-tone input and voice output system. Later, it evolved into speech input and output systems.
Conversational AI-powered IVR is more recent, it appeared only in 2016. But it has become very popular in the last five years.
Many businesses have invested a fortune in IVR. Not surprising, because IVR was a big step forward when it arrived.
It solved a simple but significant problem. IVRs use a sorting method to route calls to the right department or personnel. This reduces human effort. It also streamlines the workflow.
Over time, IVR capabilities improved slightly. But standard IVR is still severely limited.
Research by Vonage suggests that customers abandon 27% of calls they make to a business because they reach an IVR.
Most of the classic IVR systems negatively impact customer satisfaction. To put it in perspective, how do you feel when the voice at the other end says “Press 1 for….”
Are you ever excited to hear this robotic voice?
Well, hardly anyone likes it!
Most customers connect with contact centers for a human experience. They tolerate virtual assistants to a certain extent. But they do not like spending too much time listening to options instead of explaining the issue.
If your business still employs standard IVR as the first line of customer contact, it is time to upgrade. Conversational AI is the future of contact centers. It is indispensable for long-term success.
Five reasons why you should upgrade to conversational AI from standard IVR.
Classic IVRs burden customers
Customers hate standard IVRs because of the following:
- Long menus with sub-menus
- Single input option
- Using the same device to listen and enter options
- Difficult to navigate
- Impersonal feel
Today’s customers are tech-savvy. They rarely call contact centers about password resets, rebooking issues, or other simple concerns. Instead, they are more likely to call them for unusual and complex issues. When they call a contact center, traditional IVR with long menus delay them from getting the response they seek.
These systems have limited business-defined options put into multiple categories and sub-categories. Navigating this maze of options frustrates most customers.
The sterile robotic responses further spoil the customer experience.
But businesses cannot afford to employ human agents for all enquiries. This is where conversational IVR comes into the picture. It is smart, intuitive, and customer-focused.
Conversational AI uses NLP to provide human-like responses to customers. It is a huge advancement from standard IVRs.
Customers can speak naturally and the IVR will still offer the solution they need.
Cost-effectiveness and higher ROI
When CRMG LLC employed conversational AI bots, they did the equivalent work of 1000 human agents. It helped their revenue grow by 600%. This is a simple example of the cost-effectiveness and revenue potential that conversational AI can deliver.
According to this IBM report, companies across the world spend more than $1.3 trillion on customer calls every year. This is roughly $30 per call per agent which re-iterates the fact that operating a contact center is expensive.
Fortunately, conversational AI and automation can offset most of this cost.
Virtual agents or chatbots can tackle simple tasks. They can pull up customer information, verify documents, and make reservations. They work 24/7 without becoming tired or requiring breaks. This reduces dependency on human agents. Thus, it is a cost-effective solution.
Better speed and efficiency
A conversational IVR agent can resolve queries much faster than live human agents. It is because they can quickly scan and find information. AI also outperforms live agents in terms of accuracy, availability, and flexibility.
Additionally, conversational AI is less prone to error. Their self-learning algorithms are constantly improving. Conversational AI can also proactively engage with customers, helping them before they seek help.
Another attractive factor is that virtual agents are not vulnerable to problems affecting humans. They provide the same type of support to all customers. They are free of human emotions and treat every customer alike.
Customers expect and appreciate two-way interactions
Customer engagement and satisfaction drive business growth. Today’s customers want to be heard. They expect instant gratification and productive interactions.
Traditional IVR does not facilitate either of them. It is generally a one-sided conversation where you interact with an automated system. It can also mishear voices and make errors. These systems cannot sense when a customer is angry. This often frustrates the customer and even leads to serious consequences.
Conversational IVR overcomes these pitfalls. It is a two-way interaction with the customer. The system employs sentiment analysis. It can be trained to recognize when a caller is angry and escalate the inquiry for faster and better resolution.
Easy scalability and flexibility
Traditional IVR systems can barely cope with the demands of a growing business. The impact is higher if you operate in a multilingual market or have several service departments.
Imagine how annoyed customers would be to navigate a standard IVR with multiple tree-based menus each time. Wouldn’t it negatively impact their perception of the business?
Conversational IVR solves this problem. AI allows businesses to gather initial details, verify callers, and quickly route them to the right person. Many processes can also be covered with a self-service option thanks to automation.
For businesses operating in a multilingual market, the benefits are higher. Conversational IVR platforms can support multiple languages. This eliminates the need to hire separate agents proficient in different languages.
Furthermore, conversational AI and IVR will sit on top of your existing tech stack. It integrates with existing systems, eliminating the need for extensive upgrades.
In a nutshell…
At the end of the day, every business must understand and adapt to customer expectations. When standard IVR fails to deliver the intended outcome, revisit your options. Conversational AI is the key to improving customer support and enriching customer experiences.
Voxtron is a leading industry expert for high-performance customized Conversational AI solutions. Contact our team today to learn how we can future-proof your business with a tailored Conversational AI solution.