I recently had the opportunity to present a webinar with Varolii Corporation entitled Preparing Your Business for Today’s Multi-channel Customer. Most companies already live in a multi-channel world with voice, fax, email, voicemail, IVR, web. Some support web chat, outbound alerting, social media, and mobile, or have plans to do so. It’s an important topic as contact center professionals and customers worry about how all of these pieces fit together.
My comment that “IVR may be in decline” clearly got some attendees’ attention. This is not a definitive statement based on hard data, but rather an observation based on client work. I think it triggered questions (more conjecture!) because people are clamoring to have data to back up what they may inherently know or believe. Unfortunately, that sort of data is hard to come by. But lacking data, I’m going to say more about that statement because I think it has resonance for a lot of people. They are wondering where to spend their precious time, money, and resources as the channel options keep growing.
Why I Think IVR May Be in Decline…
Given all the ways in which customers can seek information or conduct transactions, they increasingly turn to more user friendly or personally preferred self service options (web, mobile apps), or use things like forums to find answers if appropriate. When they call, they often have exhausted other options or just need to talk to someone. [Or they are like my mom and just like to use the phone, not those new-fangled approaches.] Thus, companies see less interest in using IVR for self service because of a declining base of users who prefer that channel.
HOWEVER, IVR is “not dead yet”…
There is an important, ongoing role for IVR for those who like it, who don’t have access to computers or mobile devices (either generally or in the moment), and for “call steering” – i.e., gathering information on the caller identification and call purpose to use in routing and screen pops. We also see companies with successful IVR self service applications continuing to optimize the interface for customers who use it. I’m all for that!
Are you wondering what you should do with your IVR applications? Industry trends and perspectives are informative, but your customers should have the loudest “voice.” Watch what they do and listen to what they say – especially as you add new channels to the mix.