It seems everyone likes to make projections about the future. We at Acclaim Telecom are no different, so we thought we would share some of our opinions on future directions of the IVR industry. Keep in mind we are not a research organization such as Gartner or Forrester. Our predictions are based on our experiences with our customers as well as our responsibility of staying relevant to our customers for the future. So with that mild disclaimer, here are ten (10) IVR trends we expect to continue or increase in 2012.
- Despite the rise of social media and alternative methods of providing customer support, use of traditional IVR systems will never die or go away. No real surprise here. In fact, mobile phones increased the use of traditional IVR systems, even as smart phones and electronic tablets have created additional avenues of providing customer support. The ability to access information over the phone (mobile and land line based) is still one of the most convenient ways of doing so for the majority of consumers.
- Having raised the topic of smart phones and electronic tablets, they will continue to put pressure on traditional IVR systems to improve their ROI and increase effectiveness. New and alternative methods of supporting customers drive companies and vendors to assess how they traditionally provided value. And that is a good thing for customers.
- IVR Cloud Computing based services will continue to drive down cost and increase the speed of deployment of IVR systems for all companies; small, medium and large.
- And speaking of Cloud Computing based services; IVR from the cloud will continue to significantly expand the ability of small and mid-sized companies to take advantage of IVR capabilities. Most all of the usual financial and technological benefits associated with Software as a Service (SaaS) apply to IVR applications delivered from the Cloud.
- 2012 will be a year of pragmatic approaches and incremental improvements for customer support services. While the business climate was much more resilient in 2011 than most expected, cautious optimism is still an aggressive prediction for many companies in 2012. Companies will continue to squeeze as much functionality as possible from existing systems, with upgrades or new system installations being driven by careful ROI analysis or legacy systems no longer being able to adequately serve their needed function.
- The challenges of integrating multimodal methods of customer support (IVR, web based services, email, SMS text messaging, and live agent conversations) will continue to increase in importance. Customer expectations for more effective support increases with the introduction of new technology. However, the complexity of integrating and tracking customer interactions through different mediums will continue to increase in importance and require thoughtful planning for customer support organizations.
- Integrating business and data analytics into IVR systems will continue to increase in importance. The need to improve the effectiveness of IVR systems and minimize customer frustration through improved information delivery is a never ending pursuit.
- SMS text messaging and email notifications / services integrated into IVR systems will continue to gain acceptance and usage.
- Voice XML (VXML) based IVR continue to expand at a rapid pace, and traditional legacy system based IVR systems continue their rapid decline in sales. There was a huge deployment of legacy IVR systems in the late 1990s and they are reaching the end of their useful product lifecycle, both in terms of support costs as well as functionality. While DTMF based systems still represent the largest installed based, voice enabled systems continue to close the gap as vendors and companies become smarter on how to use Speech Recognition based technologies.
- This last one may surprise you coming from a company that makes its living providing IVR services. IVR systems will continue to be an easy target to poke fun at.
Why? Like many situations; partly based on fact, partly based on unrealistic customer expectations, and also based on past sins committed. Most callers know whether their needs can be met from a standard set of menu options, or if they need to speak with a live agent when they first call. The more difficult companies make it to speak to a live agent (in the pursuit to minimize live agent interaction due to higher costs) or by implementing overly complex menu options, the easier it is for caller frustration to occur. We had some fun with this topic in a blog published June 2010 titled, “IVR Rage Syndrome” and our commitment to eliminating I.R.S.
If you have a personal prediction for the IVR industry in 2012, we would love to hear and share them! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts or leave a comment here on the blog.