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Is your IVR a roadblock or a pathway to resolve customer issues?

April 17, 2024


Three years ago, we struggled to handle call volumes due to understaffing and faced a few options:

  1. Add an IVR and try to divert callers, making it harder to get to an agent.
  2. Or, add a customer-led conversational AI voice assistant to answer the call immediately, help callers resolve their concerns, and make reservations.

Over the past few years I have made these observations in comparing the roadblocks of a traditional IVR to our new conversational assistant and how it became a pathway to help our callers and drive more revenue while reducing costs.

Traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have long been criticized for their tendency to act as roadblocks, frustrating callers with confusing menus and limited options. However, the emergence of conversational AI assistants presents a paradigm shift, transforming customer interactions into seamless pathways toward issue resolution.

The IVR roadblock

IVR systems have been a staple of customer service for decades, designed to automate call routing and reduce the burden on human agents. However, they often fall short of delivering a satisfactory customer experience. Callers are greeted with a series of robotic prompts, forcing them to navigate through a maze of menu options, often leading to dead ends or irrelevant departments. Frustration mounts as customers struggle to articulate their issues within the confines of pre-determined choices, leading to longer call times and decreased satisfaction.

The conversational AI pathway

Conversational AI assistants represent a departure from the rigid structure of IVR systems, offering a more intuitive and natural way for customers to interact with businesses. Powered by advanced natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms, these virtual assistants can understand and respond to various inquiries, regardless of how they are phrased. By leveraging contextual understanding and personalized data, conversational AI assistants guide callers along a pathway tailored to their needs, swiftly addressing their concerns and providing relevant solutions.

The key differences between your IVR and voice AI

1. Flexibility

IVR systems offer limited flexibility, constraining callers within predefined menu options. conversational AI assistants, on the other hand, adapt to the unique needs and preferences of each caller, offering a more dynamic and personalized experience.

2. Engagement

Due to their impersonal nature, IVR systems often leave callers feeling disconnected and frustrated. Conversational AI assistants engage callers in natural, human-like conversations, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding.

3. Resolution time

IVR systems can prolong resolution times as callers struggle to navigate through menus or wait for human assistance. Conversational AI assistants streamline the process by quickly identifying and addressing customer inquiries, leading to faster issue resolution and higher satisfaction rates.

The path forward

As businesses strive to enhance their customer service offerings, transitioning from IVR roadblocks to conversational AI pathways presents a significant opportunity for improvement. By embracing the capabilities of conversational AI technology, companies can elevate the customer experience, drive operational efficiency, and build stronger relationships with their customers. As customer expectations evolve, the path forward is clear: it’s time to break down barriers and pave the way for seamless, conversational interactions.

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