I recently read an informative Forrester Research report “Customer Experience in the Post-PC Era,” by Tony Costa, a senior analyst focused on customer experience. The April 2013 report discusses how rapid consumer adoption of mobile devices, new interfaces, and the different behaviors they encourage are changing consumer experience expectations and quickly rendering traditional experience design approaches obsolete. Because customers expect service aligned with their needs and abilities in the right context, the report reveals that companies need to deliver experiences that are natural, adaptive, and anticipatory. Based on my ongoing work helping businesses re-invent their IVRs, I couldn’t agree more.
Natural: Just as Tony sees menus, buttons, and page-based layouts gradually disappearing in post-PC interactions, I see the complex menus mazes of traditional IVR systems quickly becoming a thing of the past. Multi-layered menu trees are being replaced by natural language understanding based systems that allow callers to describe their needs in their own words and get their task completed using a conversational self-service interaction or get quickly routed to the right contact center agent.
Adaptive: The report identifies the need for services to perform reliably across a wide range of devices to deliver a flexible, yet seamless customer experience. Companies must design personalized experiences that remember a customer’s prior interactions. I see this as an opportunity for contact centers to deliver more intelligent phone interactions through dynamic, personalized IVR experiences plus the integration of inbound IVR with other channels such as outbound, mobile, Web, email and even social media. After all, perhaps the biggest driver to delivering an “adaptive” self-service experience is the ability to solve the customer problem in the channel they want at the time they want to use it.
Anticipatory: According to Tony, anticipatory experiences need to provide the right mix of content and functionality at the right time and place to drive meaningful engagement. IVRs are quite capable of anticipating what a customer might need and when. For example, US Airways uses an intelligent IVR to evaluate where #800 callers are in their trip lifecycle and proactively provides flight departure time and gate information for upcoming trips. Aeroflot Russian Airline uses outgoing voice notifications about flight changes. In both cases, the relevant travel information is provided automatically so customers don’t have to dial, speak, type, swipe, or wait for an agent. This saves the traveler time while reducing costs for the airline. Talk about a win-win.
When it comes to meeting customer experience expectations in the post-PC era, Tony Costa’s recommendations for creating natural, adaptive and anticipatory experiences across every channel are spot on. Customer experience designers need to adopt a new mindset focused on aligning the latest technologies with user needs. And, with the majority of customer service interactions still taking place over the phone, companies just can’t afford to ignore their IVRs.
If you’d like a copy of the report, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.