How Conversational IVR Is Rapidly Transforming Service Desks and Customer Service

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an integral part of modern digital enterprises, and employee-facing service desks (IT, HR, etc.) and customer service are no exception. Although AI can improve all parts of a business operation when done well, it’s arguably the most important when it comes to these areas. They represent the direct link to employees and customers as well as a forward-facing representation of the company and its brand.

conversational IVR

Traditional Interactive Voice Response Systems Are Aging Poorly

For many years, Service Desks and Customer Services have relied on Interactive Voice Response Systems, also known as IVRs, to front-end manage both employy and customer requests. IVRs are rule-based systems that use Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) to respond to either speech, using Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), or touch-tone.

You’ve probably come in contact with an IVR system before if you called a business or company and you were prompted with something like “Hello and thank you for calling [COMPANY NAME]. If you know the extension of the person you wish to reach, please enter it now. To speak with the operator, press 0 at any time. For Sales, press 1. For Technical Support, press 2. For Billing, press 3. For information about our company, press 4. To repeat this message, press pound.” Because there is no limitation to the number of inquiries IVR systems can respond to, organizations have used them to scale their service desk and customer services. However, according to the 2018 CFI Contact Center Satisfaction Index, 88% of employees and customers who reach an IVR end up talking to a live agent to resolve their issues. So, while IVR systems gave the impression of scaling service based on the large number of incoming requests they can address, they have proved not to be effective in actually helping reduce the volume of requests which require agents’ attention.

Paradoxically, the unlimited scalability promised is actually limited and bound by the number of service agents on staff. Even worse is the experience perceived by employees and customers who are guard-railed throughout the IVR menu selection process which concludes most of the time with being put on hold to await the next available agent. This creates a terrible experience. Unnecessary extra steps in the customer journey, no personalization and engagement in experiences, no self-resolution, and very long resolution times.

An Increased Demand for Personalized Self-Service

Nowadays, people are more digitally connected than ever. They expect employee and customer services delivered at the same level they have experienced everywhere in the consumer space. They want to engage with service desks and customer service through self-service automation with 24x7x365 availability, accessibility with the device and in the channel of their choice – email, chat, text, or voice. This encompasses the power of technology that truly understands human language and allows people to freely express themselves as if they were directly in conversation with live agents.

Employees and customers demand technology that provides a high degree of dialog personalization, capabilities of identifying and presenting accurate information, and the ability to direct them to the optimal next step quickly. They seek technology that can read their sentiment and state of mind and self-adapt to deliver an immersive and engaging experience. This technology is available now and it is known as conversational IVR or conversational AI in the form of Virtual Assistants.

Conversational IVR is The Future of Automation

Conversational IVRs are radically transforming service desks and customer service. They are shifting the traditional IVR systems focus of containing and deflecting users to the mindset of person-centric, immersive engagement and personalization, and effective and rapid self-serving automation. This ultimately creates a modern employee and customer experience long-expected by all. With conversational IVR systems, the end-to-end process of engagement to resolution is completely automated and streamlined.

Conversational IVR systems provide a true omnichannel experience. Employees and customers can initiate a conversation on one channel and finish the task on another channel. They can even depart from the system and choose to be notified upon the completion of the requested task. As a result, they are no longer forced to the single-channel experience offered by traditional IVRs but rather are empowered to dynamically move across channels as they desire. This allows them the ability to move without the system ever losing the state of what was requested and/or status of the corresponding resolution. Conversational IVR systems use advanced NLP/NLU models capable of deeply understanding human language. Employees and customers have more freedom in interactions using phrases and utterances of their choice rather than being stuck with a small set of pre-canned questions or menu-driven options selection offered by more traditional IVRs.

Understand and Resolve Requests Autonomously

The new level of interaction with employees and customers feels more fluid, natural, and intelligent. Furthermore, conversational IVRs provide a high degree of integration with back-office systems and capabilities such as ticketing systems, CRM and case management systems, knowledge bases, IAM/SSO systems, alerts systems, or custom applications. This enables conversational IVR systems to be extremely effective not only in understanding requests or issues but also capable of autonomously resolving them — without the need to escalate to a live agent even for more complex issues — using conversational AI and RPA technologies. Start to end in just a handful of seconds!

conversational ivr

Service desks and customer service must modernize their user front-facing technologies to meet the expectations of employees and customers in the digital age. Organizations that fail to adapt to the latest trends will find themselves left behind as their competition continues to advance – don’t let this be you. If your organization relies on an IVR at the service desk or in customer service, the time is now to modernize it into a conversational IVR.

Aisera offers the most feature-comprehensive and technology-advanced conversational IVR solution for self-service automation in the market which blends AI Virtual Assistant technology, Conversational AI (cognitive search) and Conversational RPA into one SaaS cloud offer for IT Service Desk and Customer Service. Aisera’s proprietary unsupervised NLP/NLU technology, User Behavioral Intelligence, and Sentiment Analytics are protected by several patent-pending applications.

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