Did Steve Jobs Have a Major Impact on the IVR Industry?

It may be hard to find an industry in which Steve Jobs did not in some manner directly influence. We at Acclaim Telecom believe that is true for the IVR industry. The amount of impact on the IVR industry depends on how much direct influence you wish to credit Jobs.

Steve Jobs is universally recognized for his brilliance in transforming technology products into an art form; that combined with his obsessive focus on quality and user experience. From the beginnings of Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh computer, to the acclaimed release of the iPod, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; each proved highly innovative and disruptive in their respective industry. But I have to wonder if Steve Jobs really knew the impact the iPad and iPhone would have on the business enterprise.

So what does all of this have to do with the IVR industry?

Early on IVR systems were clearly the dominant alternative of providing customer support without speaking with a live agent. The adoption of the iPhone and iPad contributed significantly to the creation and accelerated acceptance of alternative avenues of providing customer support services. Mobile devices allowing easy access to web enabled services, SMS text capabilities, and the ability to receive email on either the iPhone or iPad (and initially on the RIM Blackberry) have decreased the reliance on IVR systems.

We are not predicting the demise of the IVR industry however. While IVR may not be perceived as sexy or cool as “iTechnology”, not everyone has a smart phone or electronic tablet. Based on information obtained through internet research, cell phone ownership is exceptionally high (no surprise here). In the U.S. almost 91% of the population owns some form of cell phone. In Europe and Russia, there are 13 cell phones owned for every 10 individuals, and in Asia & Pacific almost 70% of the population owns a cell phone. IVR systems still play a very important role in customer service organizations and ease of access increases through the use of cell phones. And just to prove the point, I took advantage of calling an IVR system while traveling to the east coast over the Christmas holiday to check some personal account status from my mobile phone.

Besides the obvious reduction of relying primarily on IVR systems for customer support, here is the more important impact smart phones and tablet technologies are having on customer support services…… the necessity to have a more comprehensive and integrated CRM solution encompassing all methods of support to enhance customer experiences.

The fundamentals of IVR technology are unlikely to radically change. While improvements continue to be made to speech recognition systems, the core process is still effectively the same; dial the customer support phone number, enter appropriate account and personal identification information via touch tone or voice recognition, and receive information from the company’s data repository. What is changing with IVR systems is the following:

  • Improving the type or amount of information you can obtain over the phone due to increasingly powerful business analytics tools and improved application design in response to increased competition.
  • Increased integration of SMS and email capabilities into legacy IVR systems as well as newly deployed IVR systems.
  • The necessity to keep track of customer interactions from multiple support avenues (smart phones and web enabled CRM applications) in an integrated manner to support future customer inquiries.

None of these mentioned enhancements represent a radical or disruptive method of providing customer support from IVR systems. What they do represent is improved ROI for one of the earliest and still highly dominant methods of providing customer support services.

Currently, one of the more cost effective ways Acclaim Telecom is seeing increased ROI and improved customer satisfaction is through the integration of SMS text messaging and email based capabilities with IVR systems. Providing outbound notifications, transaction or event confirmations, transmitting requested data for future use or reference, or prompting alternative system interaction for more complex transaction requests are but a few of the ways SMS text and email capabilities are being used.

Acclaim Telecom would be happy to discuss how you can take advantage of integrated SMS text messaging or integrated email to enhance your customer support services. Just give us a call at 1-866-324-6416 or drop us a line at atsi_marketing@acclaimtelecom.com