Despite its age and shortcomings, voice is still one of the main ways customers engage with businesses. In fact, live agents and IVR remain two of most used customer service channels.
However, alternatives such as live chat, chatbots, and self-service websites are rapidly gaining ground, with Gartner charting a rise in the use of mobile messaging apps from 2015 to 2016 . There’s undoubtedly still a role for conventional voice in the customer journeys of tomorrow, but the default conversation will have to look much different from today if customers are to have the best possible experiences.
Losing your voice: The problems with the voice channel
A ringtone, followed by a recorded message and finally a prompt to select an option from a menu. This is the typical experience when calling most organizations, thanks to widespread reliance on voice-powered systems.
In theory, IVR is a great cost-cutting measure for businesses because it processes voice traffic without the need to routinely involve human agents. However, it often dampens customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately negating these savings.
Over 80 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid a company after a poor IVR experience. Outdated voice channels – and the corollary of not being able to reach a human interlocutor – is also one of the most reliably cited frustrations with customer . After the growth of voice-powered assistants, customers’ experiences will become easier and more efficient. Customer wait time on the phone may decrease significantly and companies can reduce the chance of human error once these advanced voice technologies become streamlined.
Beyond IVR: Speaking up with help from voice-powered assistants
Once the stuff of sci-fiction, voice-powered assistants are now typical. They’re also windows into what a renewed, more modernized voice channel looks like.
Apple Siri, as well as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Facebook Portal and others have real footholds in the consumer space and their potential as business applications is readily apparent. Juniper Research estimated more than half of U.S. households would contain a voice-powered speaker by 2022.
In early 2017, Amazon hinted at a version of Alexa optimized for call centers, and it seems likely that intelligent voice-powered assistants will play bigger roles in the voice channel down the line. According to Gartner, 25 Percent of Customer Service Operations Will Use Virtual Customer Assistants by 2020. Several industries like utilities, financial services are already leveraging this technology to improve the customer experience and meet their audience on new channels.
Compared to IVR, they are much more adaptive and flexible, making them arguably the voice equivalents of chatbots. Rather than engage with a restrictive and poorly worded menu of IVR options, natural language processing, AI and touchscreen personal assistants bring convenience to commercial settings. With the right built-in assistant, a customer could do anything from checking the status of an order to scheduling an appointment with an agent.
The result is a vastly improved customer experience, not only because voice assistants are much more capable than script-oriented IVR but also due to the fact they’re already familiar to millions and still gaining in popularity. Voice, like chat, is a channel ripe for reinvention. Logic20/20 can guide and support your efforts to remake your customer engagement strategy, so be sure to connect with our team of experts for more information.
At Logic20/20, we work with clients every day to integrate business chat solutions. Here’s a case study on how we helped a telecom boost its customer retention rate.
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