I don’t know about you but when faced with an IVR system (Interactive Voice Response system), you know then ones where you are presented with a series of options like: press 1 for customer service or 2 for sales on your telephone keypad or, the more sophisticated versions, where they operate on voice recognition, I think we all have stories of how frustrating they can be or how they have gone wrong at some point.
In fact, check out the video clip below. It’ll make you smile. Warning: you do need to know a little French but just listen out for the words: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf etc and you’ll get the gist of it 😉
Anyway, did you like the video? I’ve never been a huge fan of IVR’s but I understand the economic rationale for their deployment. However, while they may save costs I have always felt that they can also cost a company, in terms of the quality of the relationships they have with their customers.
Then, recently, I was introduced to a company called Interactions (www.interactions.com), who are doing some cool new stuff with IVR systems. I’ve uploaded an audio file (see podcast bit at the top of the post) of a call on file from a pizza chain using Interactions technology. The beeped out details are so that no personal details are shared but this is a real call from a real caller.
What did you think? You can check out more examples here.
When I first heard this and other examples of their calls I thought that they were using some new fangled artificial intelligence technology to help them improve the IVR experience and effectiveness.
However, in discussion with the guys from Interactions they told me that it’s not artificial intelligence but ‘real’ intelligence that makes their system different. What they do that is different is that they add an additional layer of human understanding into each call. What does that mean? Well, the way that I understood it is that each call is routed to either a speech recognition piece of technology or a pool of Interactions Analysts (IA).These analysts are only engaged as needed, for short portions of a call to recognize and interpret customer responses, where things are a little tricky ie. noisy environments or someone is hard to understand. The result is that they’re creating self-service experiences that feel like the customer is speaking with an (almost) real person. Nice!
They also told me about some of the brands that they are working with in the US and the UK and I was impressed. I can’t mention them but one of the brands is one of my favourites. Enough said.
If you are running an operation that is handling thousands, if not millions, of calls a day and are currently suffering from the pressures of higher customer demand for more human contact but can’t quite see how the economics of a fully staffed human call/contact centre works. Then, this new technology might be worth checking out and might be a, or the first, step to building a better customer and self-service experience.
Disclosure: I was introduced to Interactions by someone I know and arrange to have a chat with them. I have no commercial affiliation with them whatsoever. I just think some of the stuff that they are developing is pretty cool.
What do you think? A step in the right direction?