You call a customer support number and you hear an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) taking you through the menu options one at a time. You punch in the numbers on your mobile device and try to get to the option that serves your purpose. Once you get there, you are asked to enter your invoice number or customer ID which is 10 digits at least. You fumble around to get it and by the time you enter it, your response gets timed out. You have no other option but to try again and be a bit faster this time. After going through this maze, you finally connect to an agent where you have to spell out your details again. We all have experienced this and surely it can be a bit frustrating.
Now get this.
You call a customer support number and you hear an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) which tells you that there is a better way of self-service, would you like to choose that option? You as a customer say yes and you receive a link on your mobile phone in the form of an SMS. You open that link and your digital journey starts and you are directed to an interactive page that has a visual menu that you can easily traverse through and fields in which you can enter the required information. You can do it at your own pace and at your own time without the fear of being timed out. If you don’t get the solution you are looking for, you can connect with an agent at the tap of a button. What’s more, the agent already has the details that you filled in earlier so that you don’t have to spell them out again. You get your query solved and enjoy a nice rest of the day.
This feels great, doesn’t it? That’s visual IVR for you.
The traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems that we all have encountered at some point use touchtone pads / numeric inputs to help take the customer through the system. Each press of a key directs you to the next stage and narrows down the reasons for your call. The more recent voice IVR systems require the caller to say where they need to be directed. That brings in a whole lot of pitfalls of its own. Voice IVR systems have been improved over time by adding conversational AI that can predict intent and guide the user in the right direction. However, all of this is essentially the same, just with different modus operandi.
IVR is far from perfect and you don’t need to look too far to identify its weaknesses.
- IVR does not provide full visibility to the customers. They only know the options when they reach there. Customers often select the wrong option and go down the wrong track. They need to go through the steps again once they realize the sub-menu they are on does not cater to their need.
- Many callers opt-out of this navigation exercise and directly select the option that connects them to an agent. This leads to low containment rates and higher wait times.
- The voice-enabled IVR can lead to struggles with pronunciations and accents particularly if the customers are spread across geographies.
- IVR isn’t the best at gathering data from customers. Users cannot enter complex data. Customers using voice-enabled IVR may be hesitant to speak out their personal information in a public place. Much is left to be desired in this regard.
What is Visual IVR?
A Visual Interactive Voice Response or Visual IVR is a system that adds a visual interface to the traditional IVR setup. The visual interface leverages multiple channels like smartphones and other digital devices that provide web access. It makes navigation intuitive and data collection from customers seamless. The customer generally receives the link to visual IVR menus via SMS or the application that is already installed on the phone. The menus may either reflect the IVR structure or maybe be augmented to accept other forms of inputs like long texts, images etc.
A visual IVR system helps to gather real-time data. Company websites and mobile applications can help customers navigate menus quickly. They can type in their responses and use radio buttons, checkboxes and drop-down menus which are more reliable and reduce the chances of mistakes from the customer’s end. When the agent reaches out, the agent has all the essential information at his/her disposal and can continue from where the customer left off. The customer does not have to bounce around before reaching the right option and this enables a better customer experience.
Benefits of Visual IVR
Visual IVR provides some distinct advantages over traditional IVR systems.
- Personalization of customer interactions: As visual IVR makes it easy to collect customer information from various touchpoints, agents can spend their time with customers having meaningful conversations and providing more value to the customers.
- Elimination of wait times: Implementation of a visual IVR system can help save up to 60 seconds of AHT for an agent. This time that was wasted in collecting user information can be utilized to understand their problems and provide quick resolutions. The customer does not have to wait online. Faster resolutions lead to more satisfied customers.
- Omnichannel presence: While IVR is only usable on phones, visual IVR allows for multichannel contact. Millennials and Gen-Z increasingly use smartphones, mobile apps, and social media. Visual IVR makes it possible for contact centres to reach them via their preferred mode of communication.
- Improved security: Visual IVR providers make sure that all the data security and privacy protocols are in place so that customers can enter their personal information without the risk of it being misused. Landing pages may be encrypted to add to the security.
- High containment rates: 60%-70% of users using visual IVR find a solution to their problem and do not require a call from an agent. This is a big leap when compared to the 15%-20% containment rate of traditional IVR systems. This ease of use and self-fulfillment has demonstrated an increase in customer satisfaction and NPS scores.
Visual IVR systems are primarily designed to make the contact centre spaces more efficient while making it convenient for the customer to reach out. The time of human agents is better managed as redundant tasks are taken out from the calling routine and they focus more on solving customer problems rather than performing perfunctory tasks. The customers feel cared for and this leads to an overall positive experience for them
IGT has an immense wealth of experience and demonstrated capability in enhancing contact center experience and achieving operational excellence. The solution provided by leveraging its digital conversation framework, “iConverse” and voice automation framework “iVolume” have benefitted numerous clients across the airline, hospitality, and retail domains. IGT has provided more than 25% cost optimization and 15% improvement in net NPS and CSAT scores through its offerings. IGT’s 20+ years of travel domain-led solution development experience enabling it to deliver end-to-end solutions, a worldwide operation presence, and its commitment to provide best-in-class solutions has helped deliver innovative solutions and business excellence continuously.
Pratik Sharma is a Sr. Business Consultant in the automation practice at IGT Solutions. He has 4 years of experience in RPA in multiple capacities. Outside of work, Pratik is passionate about football and reading.