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Hear ye! Hear ye! Speech delivers!

Hear ye! Hear ye! The data is in! While it’s been long believed that speech-enabled IVRs offer a better customer experience and overall results, new data shows that is indeed the case. Third-party research into the IVRs of 50 of the Fortune 250 companies clearly shows that companies with speech IVRs outperform others by 35%. Learn more to see where your industry stands and the different ways speech IVRs beat their touch-tone foes.

It seems intuitive that an IVR that features a user-friendly, speech-enabled menu would deliver improved performance and customer experience over antiquated touch-tone systems. Well now we have the research to prove it.

In the past year Nuance hired a third-party research firm to evaluate the IVR customer experience offered by 50 leading companies in the Fortune 250 to see how well their IVRs perform. The results are surprising and unsurprising. Spoiler alert: the unsurprising part is how well speech-enabled IVRs worked compared to touch-tone.


The research criteria

Using a rating scale of 1–5, third-party researchers evaluated each of the 50 companies across six key criteria to assess the state of their IVR and their ability to help customers resolve issues quickly and painlessly. The six criteria were:

  1. Ease of use – how easy was the experience?
  2. Speed – how quickly was the call resolved?
  3. Speech recognition – if speech enabled, how well did the IVR understand the caller?
  4. Conversational dialogue – does the IVR engage in personal, back-and-forth dialogue?
  5. Caller intent – how well did the IVR determine why someone is calling?
  6. Audio quality – were the menus clear and easy to hear?

Researchers compiled all the results across these six criteria and generated an average score for each IVR.


The results

Across all 50 IVRs evaluated the average score was 2.3, indicating that there is much room for improvement in how IVRs support callers.

The unsurprising results

No surprise to us is that the IVRs in the top five performing industries below scored a whopping 35% higher than the bottom five. Is your company in one of these industries?

Top 5 industries outperform other industries with conversational IVRs

What makes the leaders stand out? No surprise that the reason for their improved IVR performance was that they invested in speech-enabling their IVRs at a much higher rate. 67% of the top performing companies adopted speech-enabled IVRs.

Speech-enabled IVRs — whether standalone or combined with Dual-tone Multi-frequency signaling (DTMF) — provide higher quality experiences than DTMF systems alone. As shown in the graphic below, companies with speech IVRs had significantly higher average scores:

Speech-enabled conversational IVRs provide higher quality experiences

The surprising results

The data above was no surprise at all. But what was surprising? Two things stand out:

First, 53% of the companies still employ an old-fashioned touch-tone IVR. Yes, DTMF and “Press 1 for Service” still lives on in the majority of companies we called. That’s great news for anyone who loves the 80’s but not so great for everyone looking to move into the future.

Second, industries that are heavily reliant on their IVR and contact center fell into the lower performing category. Companies that sell Insurance (Financial Services), Healthcare, and Health Insurance all scored significantly below the average. Given how important the phone is for engaging customers in these industries, it is curious to see them perform below average.

Is your company in the bottom tier? Still rely on DTMF? Then please read on!


Say “Yes” to speech

With the rise of voice-activated smart assistants in our phones, cars, and homes, the power of voice is on the rise with no sign of slowing down. So why have your customers greeted with technology from 1988? Your IVR is one of your most important channels, and it makes sense to start the move to speech today. Today’s modern, conversational IVRs use powerful speech recognition and natural language so callers can engage the IVR and simply say whatever they’d like – in their own words – and be directed to the right resource. Imagine your customers’ delight when they can stop pushing buttons and start using their own words.

Check out the full research infographic to review the results in more depth, and then contact Nuance to see how we can help you be a top performer.

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Speech IVRs say it all

The research is in. The power of speech helps IVR deliver superior performance and increased customer satisfaction.

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Chris Caile

About Chris Caile

Chris Caile joined Nuance in September 2015 as senior solutions marketing manager for Nuance Conversational IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Before joining Nuance, Caile worked in various marketing and sales support positions at Microsoft and Motorola and has over 20 years of experience in the high tech industry. Caile holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Illinois State University with minors in mathematics and economics.