Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems – part of our everyday existence, providing that familiar greeting of “Press 1 for English...” Poorly designed IVR systems are the butt of almost every comedian and late-night talk-show host, taking callers in an infinite loop of complex questions and button presses that never seem to help. Depending on your perspective, they are either one of the great telephony applications, or, the bane of humanity. The reality is a good IVR systems can provide customers with just the right information quickly and efficiently, avoiding an expensive contact center agent. The differences between good IVR systems and a bad ones are
- the easinessof navigation
- clarity of the instructions and options
- and allowing a caller to get to the right information with a few keystrokes.
This last week, I was pleased to join industry consultant Steve Leaden and Kent Winters from APEX Communications during a webinar titled “Customer Experience - Improving the Look with Visual IVR”. During this one-hour session, we took a closer look at the state of IVR and an emerging technology - Visual IVR.Steve Leaden kicked off the event with an examination of the role of IVR systems in today’s mix of communications and contact centers, some industry trends and how the “Millennial Factor” is affecting adoption of multi-channel contact centers (which IVR systems do play an important role). From there, Steve introduced the concept of Visual IVR, which takes traditional IVR and adds a visual representation of the menu selections on a user’s smartphone or computer screen. As Steve notes: “Visual IVR has an effect of improving the customer experience with menus and ‘touch’ options”. Driving the adoption of Visual IVR is the consumerization and acceptance of multiple channels, including video, IM/chat, email and mobility. Based on Steve’s industry observations, the financial opportunities to improve ROI on staff, reduced call length, reduction in circuits and toll-free lines continue to accelerate adoption.
With this well-rounded foundation on the topic, the event was turned over to Kent Winter, VP of Sales for APEX Communications, experts in communications solutions for both enterprise and service providers. After a brief introduction, Kent showed a pre-recorded demonstration of the APEX Visual IVR platform, giving a glimpse of some of the scenarios that are possible for user interaction when web content and voice prompts are combined. In addition to the demo, Kent shared many of the use cases and benefits realized by offering Visual IVR to users.
I had the last word with a few slides sharing some background on how the changing landscape of real-time applications is shifting to pure-software, cloud and virtualized solutions, requiring a new approach to the development process and methodologies. Showing a break-down of the APEX ACCESS architecture, I was able to explain the role of Dialogic PowerMedia XMS as the underlying technology used to build the APEX Visual IVR solution. PowerMedia XMS, a pure software media server element provides many of the media manipulation, playback, recording, conversion and conferencing features needed for advanced real-time communications applications. As a result of selecting PowerMedia XMS for their Visual IVR offering, APEX has improved their time-to-market, eliminated costly development of voice codecs, improved product density and added new WebRTC interfaces.
Based on the quantity and quality of the questions posed by the attendees at the conclusion of the event, there is great interest in Visual IVR and the role it can play on improving the customer experience. If you missed the event, I hope you take a few minutes to view a recording of the event. For a copy of the slides or to share your thoughts on the topic drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are involved in IVR design, be sure to download the whitepaper from Dialogic titled Developing and Deploying Next Generation Voice Response Systems