I was astounded by a radio ad I heard in the car yesterday as I crawled through Atlanta traffic on the way to work. A major credit card company was touting that they are removing their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) tree (e.g., press ‘one’ for billing and ‘two’ for lost card). You will now simply get routed to a live person as quickly as possible. Hooray! In the commercial, the caller is so flabbergasted that she forgets why she called and hangs up happy and ready to recommend the credit card to all her friends.
We are obviously in a market where customer satisfaction is critical. The expectation is that communication will be instantaneous and that whoever answers will be able to help solve the problem without a long hold time. One thing is for sure, there is no tolerance for IVR messages and touch-toning your way through a call tree.
Additionally, polls remind us that customer care still has a long way to go, especially for mobile users. Perhaps by just getting a live person immediately on the line, customers will have a favorable impression. It is more likely that some re-tooling is also needed. For example a travel industry study reports that customers want more from customer service. They especially want service when they are on the road. They want updates pushed to them and they want the ability to use either the phone or their keypad to make changes to a reservation. The driving need is getting the right information at the right time and being able to act upon it in a convenient manner. So will it be a mobile app or a bigger contact center that will come to the rescue?
The convergence of IVR and mobile apps
The observation that mobile apps and IVR are not mutually exclusive was reported in 2012. Industry wags have accurately reported that a mobile App is not an IVR and vice versa. So, perhaps the answer is both.
The marriage of the mobile app and the IVR has led to a cool new technology called visual IVR. Instead of pressing menu choices on a keypad while listening to voice prompts, the user opens the mobile app and taps through the service menu choices on their mobile device. The visual IVR routes the user inside the app to either read information, watch a instructive video, or connect with someone who can answer their question.
Logging into the app captures and passes specific caller information to the agent fielding the call. Because the caller already has selected the reason for the call on the mobile app, the call is sent directly to a person who can assist. It is a perfect match resulting in customers spending less time on hold and reducing call times, which saves businesses money. If you haven’t already seen these applications you are likely to see them soon.
Keeping customers happy when they contact your business is a high priority. How they think about your brand is closely linked with the overall health of your brand and bottom line. I think the efficiency of the visual IVR is a hot application in any online or call center strategy. I am not sure customers will be so happy that they forgot why they called, but I do believe customers want more from the existing technology.