Hosted IVR is generating a ton of buzz these days because it’s one of the fastest growing segments of the contact center hosting market.  In North America alone, enterprises spent $606 million on hosted IVR in 2010, according to Frost & Sullivan. Come 2017, they’ll spend $1.08 billion.

But what really matters is what’s behind those growth numbers – why is this area so hot and why enterprises are making the move to hosting. Not surprisingly, it’s all about driving improvements in customer experiences – and controlling or reducing operating costs in the process.

First, popular Smartphone apps such as Siri and Dragon Go! Are getting consumers comfortable asking a device – rather than a live agent – for information in a very natural way. These cloud-based apps are intelligent and accurate, understanding users requests and provide the right answer fast.  Apps such as these are having direct impact on caller expectations when it comes time to interact with an IVR.  More and more, callers expect their IVR interactions also to be intelligent and to provide answers fast. For enterprises, staying current with the latest and greatest natural language understanding technologies is key to delivering that natural IVR experience- and there’s no better way than through the cloud. For example, Nuance On Demand automatically makes new speech technology advancements available to our hosted customers.  With easy and automatic access, many are put into use 12 months in advance of other systems; accelerating time to savings and driving improved performance.

Another aspect of the IVR performance improvement is the conversational self-service experience that current Natural Language technologies enable.  A conversational experience saves time and effort for callers by removing the layers of menu choices that often don’t match what the caller believes is the reason for their call. Just as easily as asking Siri for the weather, natural language technology in an IVR allows callers to express what they need in their own words “I got a wrong charge and need to get it fixed”.  It’s that easy.  With a simple request, the caller gets to the right self-service function or to the right agent to resolve their issue.

Natural language also reduces the number of prompts that callers have to respond to- and that also has a big impact. Our data shows that for every prompt a company can eliminate, they add about 3% self-service potential. That’s substantial given that a live agent interaction typically costs $5 to $12, according to Forrester Research. In all instances, organization save cost because callers discover self-service functions they otherwise might not have had the patience to find, or they get to the right agent, reducing call transfers.

If you’re considering the merits of up-leveling your IVR intelligence, let us examine how your IVR measures up and share what’s possible.  We’re so confident in our ability to deliver a better experience for your customers that we guarantee that our proposed improvements will deliver better performance. Why are we so confident? Because so many organizations have switched to Nuance On Demand and have experienced a 20-30% performance improvement.

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About Andrea Mocherman

This was a contributed post by Andrea Mocherman. To see more content like this, visit the Customer experience section of our blog.