How many customers are you missing out on because you lack the resources to interact with them 24 hours a day?
You might be ready to consider automating your communications to capture those contacts that usually walk away because they can’t reach you. Most organizations start looking at voice automation when call volume is overwhelming, unpredictable, or prone to spikes in traffic. Their first attempt at “automation” is having callers leave a voicemail, but this can result in a loss of potential customers, as well as a perception that your organization is either amateurish or just a dinosaur. Either way, if you want to increase customer interactions, you have to address missed contacts. The best way to do this is with IVR, or with a voicebot, also known as an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA).
Interactive Voice Response
IVR is an automated phone system that when designed correctly, can provide useful information, or perform transactions for callers 24 hours a day. IVR is best for:
1. When you have a limited budget.
IVR was once very cost-prohibitive, but simple IVR applications that are hosted in the cloud are relatively inexpensive to build. Monthly billing is based on the number of minutes callers spend on the system each month.
2. When you need to route calls, as well as to conduct transactions.
IVR has a lot more experience with telephone call routing, integration, and call center interoperability.
3. When you don’t need to provide a conversational experience.
IVR is great for repetitive queries by callers who want to get their information and get out. Our government customers use IVR to provide payment statuses, waiting list statuses, social services information, and other applications that don’t require a “fancy” customer experience.
4. When you need to make calls to many recipients.
Our customers use outbound IVR to send alerts, to remind defendants of their court date, and to ask gas stations how much fuel is left in their tanks.
Voicebots, i.e. Intelligent Virtual Assistants
Thanks to Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, more people than ever are using their voice to interact with applications that do everything from home automation to picking what music to play. This mass adoption of virtual assistants has led to greater acceptance of commercial voice applications that are much like IVR, but also very different. Voicebots utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect the intent of the caller’s request. Once it knows the intent, the Voicebot can perform myriad functions, such as appointment setting, real-time status for busses and trains, and reporting a pothole on your street.
Voicetbots are best for:
1. When you want to offer multiple channels of communication.
Voicebots are basically voice-enabled text bots, so you could run web chat, text messaging, and social media messaging without additional development effort.
2. When you have several different languages.
Google Speech-to-Text supports many languages for both speech recognition, and text and voice responses. Keep in mind you still have to develop and train your bot in each language. Voicebots are great for translation too.
3. When you want to take advantage of Natural Language Understanding (NLU).
NLU is exclusively found in AI-based technology. NLU is able to detect the intent of a user by what they say, instead of trying to word-match utterances like in legacy speech recognition. This cuts down on errors and speeds development. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and similar products utilize NLU to detect intents.
4. When you want to track everything that was said to your application.
AI-based voicebots store all requests, including those that do not have a matching intent. This allows you to add intents and responses to new topics that people are asking about.
While IVR still has many uses, voicebots are catching up in terms of adoption, and many businesses and government agencies are already beginning to launch voicebots while retiring their IVR systems. However, there’s still a place for IVR when that’s all you need — voicebots can be overkill if the simplicity and affordability of IVR is enough to serve your use case. In the future, look for voicebot technology to catch up here as well, as voice becomes the dominant medium for computer interactions.