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IVR: Shaping the Future of Self-Service

Self-service channels, namely interactive voice response (IVR), have revolutionized the contact center world by allowing consumers to quickly resolve basic inquiries on their own. This technology is deemed a contact-center mainstay for a variety of reasons, including the ability to handle larger quantities of customers and slash costs. However, business value aside, consumer behavior has been the ultimate driving force behind innovative self-service capabilities—leading contact centers on a quest to provide a more efficient, fluid customer experience.

The Evolution of Customer Preference Among Generations

Interactions have changed shape with each new generation. Sticking with tradition, Baby Boomers and earlier generations prefer to speak with someone directly concerning the resolution of their inquiry or issue. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Millenials tend to gravitate toward a method that supports autonomy and provides the freedom to navigate potential options or solutions on their own, as opposed to waiting in a queue to speak to a customer-service agent.

Regardless of these generational gaps, a 2013 Zendesk survey discovered that 54 percent of consumers had dialed a customer service department over a six-month period, while 27 percent enlisted the assistance of online self-service channels. Call-based service will most likely stick around for the long haul, however, self-service consumption continues to gain popularity. According to a 2013 Forrester report, customer service trends reflected a 12 percent rise in web self-service usage, a 24 percent rise in chat usage and a 25 percent increase in community use over a three-year period. This is due in large part to today’s busy, time-strapped and instant-gratification culture.

Self-Service to the Rescue

The demand for technology that integrates contact-center operations and supports multi- or omni-channel communications is increasing indefinitely. And with more organizations deploying self-service solutions than ever, customer experiences have transformed for the better. Not only have first-call-resolution-related metrics improved immensely due to the pre-screening and more direct nature of IVR technology, but customer service has skyrocketed by lowering the time commitment and improving the outcome of interactions.

A recent Software Advice study concluded that self-service channels improved a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs). Self-service metrics have helped shine a spotlight on customer activity insights and customer service improvement areas. As indicated in the chart below, first-level resolution, call abandonment rates and speed to answer were positively affected by adopting self-service, and thus improving the contact center’s overall performance.

Effect of Self-Service Implementation on Customer Service KPIs

Putting the Power of Mobile Self-Service in Customer’s Hands

Mobile phones and tablets have played a major role in the evolution of self-service. According to a January 2014 Pew Research Internet study, 58 percent of adults in the US own a smartphone. Furthermore, 50 percent of adults are relying on their smartphones to complete online transactions. Industries from banking to healthcare provide mobile apps for customers to easily obtain vital data, schedule appointments, pay bills and much more. It’s safe to say consumers now expect companies they interact with to meet their every demand—on their time—and contact centers shouldn’t be an exception to this norm.

Enghouse Interactive’s new Mobile IVR Navigator enables contact centers to offer the same commonplace self-service capabilities via a customizable smartphone app. Its flexible design and easy-to-follow interface takes customers on an intuitive, visual journey through customer service offerings. Instead of the traditional auditory prompts, menus guide users through a self-service click-by-click process. They can gain rapid access to key transaction details, navigate their way to solutions, seek time-saving assistance from agents and even request a callback. It’s a seamless way to provide a top-notch customer experience, every time.

From long, frustrating phone calls with agents fumbling through prompts and screens to the new age of answers at your fingertips—self-service has come a long way. For now, the future of visual IVR interactions and exceptional customer service is, literally, in your hands.

Interested in learning more about Mobile IVR Navigator and how it integrates with Enghouse Interactive’s Communications Portal or as a robust standalone? Click here.

Published in contact center customer experience customer service Enghouse Interactive IVR/Self-Service