IVR Blog

How IVR’s Have Changed the Contact Center Industry

IVR’s Have Changed the Contact Center

 

IVR’s…love them or hate them, they are an almost ubiquitous part of the contact center industry and have been around for a very long time. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the first commercial IVR system was built to perform order entry and inventory control back in 1973, although the technology was certainly in its infancy, and considered expensive and difficult to implement.

Since then, the technology has come a long way, and is now pretty much considered a standard part of any contact center that has any scale to it. The technology has also grown and changed to use Standards based programming like Voice XML, and more recently the acceptance of speech recognition via Siri and Amazon Alexa, Google etc has meant that more and more systems provide for input to be gathered via speech recognition rather than DTMF (Dual Tone Multiple-Frequency, also called Touch Tone).

There is a common misconception that IVR’s are the same as ‘automated attendant’s’. While they might these days be built using the same technology, an IVR is an application that provides information, or is used to perform transactions, whereas an automated attendant is simply built to route calls to a specific area. So, while an IVR may have an automated attendant as a front-end application, it provides much more benefit than a call steering application. For example, an automated attendant would play a message like "welcome to ABC company, please press 1 for sales, or 2 for customer service. An IVR however would be set up to play a similar message, but perhaps with an additional option ‘or press 3 for self-service." Choosing this option would allow the system to begin a dialogue that collects information from callers, such as customer number and password, and then allows suitable transactions to take place. Examples of this are in a banking environment where the IVR is used to retrieve an account balance, transfer funds, or pay a bill etc.

"While they might these days be built using the same technology, an IVR is an application that provides information, or is used to perform transactions, whereas an automated attendant is simply built to route calls to a specific area."

The Benefit of using an IVR

The benefit of an IVR over an automated attendant is that the IVR enables simple tasks, that would normally be performed by an agent, to be automated.  As a result, the agent has more time to work on more complex tasks. An IVR can be used to run many hundreds of instances of the same application, therefore allowing large amounts of callers to be serviced automatically, at the same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because they enable many more calls to be serviced quickly and at significantly less cost, you can see why contact center managers love them.

The Introduction of CTI

When IVR’s first became commercialized, if a customer failed to complete their transaction in the IVR, and the IVR allowed the customer to be transferred to an agent (not always possible within the application, and a common complaint about IVR’s), then the customer had to begin their query again from scratch, identifying themselves again and requesting whatever it was they were wanting to do in the IVR.   As a result, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) was introduced in the early 1980’s by ROLM Corporation, a US PABX vendor.  CTI allowed information gathered by an IVR application, or an agent, to be transferred to the agent’s computer, along with the telephone call so that the agent’s computer could do something with that information. This is generally known as a ‘screen pop’ and allows the call to be completed much more quickly and with a better level of satisfaction for the caller as they do not have to provide the same information multiple times. The CTI information also allowed for more intelligent routing decisions to be made.

The other cool thing about this type of technology is that it is very similar to “chat bots” and other newer automation technologies. They can all use the same basic logic structure, providing similar functionality, and using the same integration points to access information using a different input / output mechanism – IVRs using speech and voice processing whereas a chat bot uses text.

"CTI allowed information gathered by an IVR application, or an agent, to be transferred to the agent’s computer, along with the telephone call so that the agent’s computer could do something with that information. This is generally known as a ‘screen pop’ and allows the call to be completed much more quickly and with a better level of satisfaction for the caller as they do not have to provide the same information multiple times."

Considerations for use

With all this technology comes the hard part of deciding what to do with it. I come from the school of thought that says, “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should”. So, the first part is to decide what you want to achieve.  For example, is it to reduce agent head count and cost?  If so, automate every possible use case that you can. If, however it is to provide a better customer experience, then you should probably start by understanding what your customers want from an automated system. If the goal is somewhere between these two extremes, then you should be looking to automate as much as possible, while still making the experience for the customer as painless and simple as possible. To maximize take up rates on the IVR, ideally offer the customer something they can’t get any other way, such as 24 x 7 service; a shorter waiting time for an agent if they have tried and failed the self-service, or something else that is of value to your customers.

"To maximize take up rates on the IVR, ideally offer the customer something they can’t get any other way, such as 24 x 7 service; a shorter waiting time for an agent if they have tried and failed the self-service, or something else that is of value to your customers."

Auto-Attendant-vs.-IVR

 

What are the day-to-day benefits of an IVR?

So, what is in it for contact center agents and management? To put it simply, agents get the opportunity to spend more time doing more exciting work and less time doing the more mundane tasks. Given the cost of labor, management gets to increase throughput without increasing costs to the same extent. This level of engagement will create happier, more motivated agents, who will in turn, be better suited to serving customers. This motivation, unsurprisingly, will contribute to a more efficient contact center and increase customer satisfaction.

If you would like us to review your IVR configuration or know more about our IVR solutions contact us today.


Alvaria logo

Aspect Software Announces Merger with Noble Systems

New combined company will expand its global reach in the Customer Experience technology space

Westford, MA. May 10, 2021. Today, Aspect Software will merge with Noble Systems of Atlanta Georgia, to form Aspect, (pronounced: ahl-vahr-ee-uh), a new global company delivering optimized customer experience and workforce engagement software and cloud services technology solutions.

 

Aspect

 

The newly combined company will be led by Patrick Dennis, Aspect President and CEO.

“This merger will combine two of the leaders in the customer experience space into a major unified force for innovation and growth,” said Patrick Dennis, President & CEO of Aspect.  “Our unified customer base represents the largest financial institutions, healthcare, online retail, and travel and transportation companies in the world. We are so excited to embark on this next stage of our corporate development.”

Abry Partners (“Abry”), a Boston-based private equity firm, spearheaded the merger and is now the majority owner of the combined company. Vector Capital, owner of Aspect, will continue as minority equity holder. The total value of the combined transaction is over $1 billion USD.

“We are impressed with the transformation of Aspect under the leadership of Patrick and the Vector team,” said Tomer Yosef-Or, partner at Abry, “and Noble Systems will be an excellent merger partner, making Aspect an even stronger competitor in the market.”

Andy Fishman, a Managing Director of Vector Capital, added, “We congratulate and thank Patrick and the entire Aspect organization for their incredible work. We are excited to partner with Abry as we bring together Aspect and Noble Systems as the new Aspect and look forward to supporting the new company through its next phase of growth.”

Jim Noble, founder and CEO of Noble Systems, will transition into a new role as an advisor to Abry and Aspect. “Jim has made a lasting impact in this marketplace,” continued Mr. Yosef-Or. “He has led Noble through 30 years of innovation and growth. This merger is a fitting exclamation point to his successful career.”

News of this merger was met with enthusiasm from key Industry Analysts. According to Nancy Jamison, Industry Director, Information and Communications Technologies at Frost and Sullivan, “Aspect plus Noble is a very strong match. Their combined technology stack and market presence, particularly in outbound contact management, will make Aspect an extremely formidable player in the space. This should be welcome news to enterprise customers worldwide.”

According to Mary Wardley, VP Customer Care and CRM research at IDC, “The Aspect/Noble merger will be a jolt of lightning to the Contact Center market for several reasons; first will be the surprise to the market, second will be the long-term opportunity these two companies and product lines bring. Large enterprise customers will especially see big benefits through innovations to come. This could spur more acquisitions as vendors vie for customers and market share.”

“We are launching Aspect with an aggressive schedule, beginning with the immediate introduction of our new corporate identity and website, www.alvaria.com, followed by merged operations,” said Michael Harris, Aspect Chief Product Officer and CMO. “Customers of Aspect Software and Noble Systems will continue to use the existing products and services they depend on now for delivering mission critical services, without interruption, followed by a seamless transition to the next generation of Aspect systems and services.”

Aspect Software and Vector Capital were advised by Jefferies LLC as their sole financial advisor, and Paul Hastings LLP as their legal counsel. Abry Partners was advised by TD Securities (USA) LLC as its financial advisor, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP as its legal counsel. Noble Systems was advised by Eversheds Sutherland as its legal counsel.

 

Media Contact:

Aspect, Aspect Software & Noble Systems:
Michael Harris, CPO/CMO, Aspect
Press@alvaria.com

About ALVARIA:

Aspect was founded through the merger of Aspect Software and Noble Systems, technology leaders in Customer Experience (CX) and Workforce Engagement solutions. Our name is derived from Latin for “hives” – nature’s perfect form for millions of years – bringing you solutions that are scalable, resilient and secure, with efficiency, speed and pinpoint accuracy. ALVARIA. Reshaping Customer Experience.  For more information, please visit www.alvaria.com

About Abry Partners:

Abry is one of the most experienced and successful sector-focused private equity investment firms in North America. Since their founding in 1989, the firm has completed over $82.0 billion of leveraged transactions and other private equity or preferred equity placements. Currently, the firm manages over $5.0 billion of capital across their active funds. For more information on Abry, please visit www.Abry.com.

About Vector Capital:

Vector Capital is a leading global private equity firm specializing in transformational investments in established technology businesses. With more than $3 billion of capital under management, Vector actively partners with management teams to devise and execute new financial and business strategies that materially improve the competitive standing of businesses and enhance value for employees, customers, and all stakeholders. For more information, visit www.vectorcapital.com.


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