Call Center IVR Explained

If you’ve ever called a business and interacted with a system that directs you to press certain buttons for specific questions or inquiries, you’ve experienced call center IVR. Interactive voice response (IVR) technology dates all the way back to the 1930s when the Voder machine first analyzed English and produced human-like audio. To this day, voice IVRs are still a common customer support solution. 

According to Fit Small Business, call center IVR boomed in the 1980s when the first mainstream provider entered the market and made the technology cost-effective. A decade later, voice IVR became a must-have for contact centers. Over the next 30 years, IVR technology has advanced to integrate with analytics, text messaging, and marketing campaigns.

The goal of voice IVR is to connect callers to the appropriate resources. For example, a call may be directed to either a self-service web page or a live agent to answer questions or resolve customer issues. 

This solution, however, is not without its drawbacks. It has difficulties understanding multiple languages, understanding accents, and handling multiple customer intentions. With customer patience waning today, this technology is no longer enough.

What does IVR stand for?

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that answers customer calls. It usually requests the caller to say or press specific numbers in order to move forward. Unlike the machine learning capabilities of an artificial intelligence call center, the goal of IVR is simple – to give access to common information, or redirect to an agent or a webpage for a resolution.

What is IVR in a call center?

IVR in a call center uses interactive voice response software to answer customer phone calls. Once the caller is connected and verified, he or she is usually provided:

  • a set of common departments to choose from,
  • account information, 
  • updates in order status, 
  • company fax or email information, 
  • or company address and direction details. 

Callers can get the information they need by selecting from a predetermined set of options and depressing corresponding numbers. Any inquiries outside of these predetermined parameters will be routed to a live agent for resolution.

How does IVR work in a contact center environment?

Voice IVR works in a contact center in a very similar manner, taking its cue from either a voice call, text inquiry, or messaging system. Because it has limited ability to understand the nuances of customer questions, voice IVR is often only a stepping stone to a final resolution. Instead of answering the question or solving a problem, IVR typically forwards the customer to an agent or self-service landing page.

How is conversational AI different from IVR systems?

Conversational AI systems, such as Replicant’s Thinking Machine, are able to resolve customer questions and problems immediately without deflecting callers to another information source. Our client’s call centers can handle any number of calls simultaneously using voice AI, allowing them to scale indefinitely.

According to Forbes, “AI for the contact center has been a popular topic of discussion for some time, but we predict that in 2022, we’ll see an increase in adoption of AI to augment agent performance, automate quality management, and deliver more proactive care.”

Machine learning technology and natural language processing allow Replicant’s solution to not only understand multiple languages and accents but also to decipher multiple customer intents in a single conversation. This means zero wait time for customers and a lighter, more interesting workload for customer service representatives.

If a complex question or problem is encountered, Replicant’s Thinking Machine can forward the caller to the right agent with a full transcript of the conversation that has already occurred. It eliminates the need for the customer to repeat the same information.

Our Solution

If you are looking to trade your call center IVR for more advanced technologies, try our conversational AI solution. Our team has had years of experience with contact centers around the country, helping them improve their customer experience and reduce their call center expenses.

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