Visual IVR is much more capable of providing on-demand customer service

In a fairly recent blog post titled “Why Visual IVR is a Bad Idea” the writer made their case why they believe WebRTC is a better solution. They refer to it as an “embedded live help feature” that will provide an exchange of context between the customer using the mobile app and the agent. In addition, they reference no hold times and reduced cost by using VoIP instead of the traditional Public-Switched Telephone Network. In theory, this sounds great but I’m here to tell you why it’s not enough and why Visual IVR is actually the better solution.

The reason why Visual IVR is a better solution is because it looks to provide you with on-demand digital assistance, wherever and whenever it is needed, without necessarily needing to connect you with an agent. This means the customer, through Visual IVR, is provided with a clear path for helping themselves and only connected to the agent (with full context transfer) when absolutely needed. Not to mention, Visual IVR can easily be integrated with the website or mobile app and does not require a download.

In my opinion, a solution like WebRTC is not a better solution because they make a number of assumptions about the journey of the customer. First off, WebRTC assumes the customer is always going to begin the journey at the organizations website or mobile app…

If my cable goes out during a show, I’m not going to go looking for my cable provider’s app or log in to their website. Both of these options require me to have previously configured an account and/or remember my account details. If my desktop monitor that I purchased 6 months ago stopped working, there is no app that exists today (that I am aware of) that will tell me whether or not it’s covered under warranty and assist me in ordering a replacement. Spoiler alert… these are use cases of Visual IVR.

These are very simple examples but the point is, there are a vast number of situations that would cause me to reach out for help that do not necessarily originate in the mobile app or on the website.

Furthermore, the intent of WebRTC is to connect you to an agent when you run into trouble while on the website or mobile app. This is another assumption that an agent is needed for every customer service interaction.

Visual IVR is here to stay and this is why

 In the article previously mentioned, the writer states his opinion as to why Visual IVR is lacking. The points he made are that the reuse of IVR in the name Visual IVR provides negative connotations due to the perceptions customers have of this technology, IVR exemplifies a technology-first – not customer-first mentality and Visual IVR is a stop gap technology. Most of these opinions could not be further from the truth.

First off, I’ll be the first to admit the name Visual IVR is extremely limiting and potentially does result in negative connotations. When the technology was first introduced, it simply sought to make your existing IVR, visual.

The original benefit of a visual IVR was to dramatically cut the time and improve the routing of a customer to the appropriate agent. Instead of the customer having to listen to the menu prompt (press one for technical support… press two for billing questions… press three for the winning lottery numbers… just making sure you’re still with me) the customer can now benefit from viewing these options and tapping or clicking to select their way through the routing system which shortens time and allows the customer to view all available options.

Improved routing is due to the customers’ ability to see the options which means they don’t have to worry about waiting through a long recorded list, selecting the incorrect option, or not even waiting to hear all available options (zero outs).

As I mentioned, the product is much more capable now and doesn’t only make your existing IVR visual. Routing has dramatically improved with the new capability of self-service. If we take the example previously mentioned of cable TV going out, through Visual IVR the customer has access to instructional pictures and/or videos of how to reset their service and/or device which can include a step by step guided tour of the process. Through Visual IVR, the customer is equipped with the tools necessary to answer their own inquiries or resolve their own issues.

If the customer is unsuccessful at fixing the issue, they can then be transferred to an agent through various methods (call back, waiting queue, chat) and the agent is provided with the steps the customer attempted enabling them to rule out those troubleshooting steps and more quickly get to the solution.

The reason why the technology is here to stay is because many organizations are benefiting from a dramatic reduction in calls due to the ability of Visual IVR to pivot those calls into a fully capable digital engagement. Callers that require transfer to an agent, not only benefit from being routed to the right agent the first time, they also get there with minimal requirements (no need to re-authenticate, re-explain the problem/reason they are calling, etc.). Therefore, the average handle time of those calls is much less than before Visual IVR.

With the ability for many to achieve ROI in weeks, it’s difficult to ignore the benefits of the solution.

Visual IVR was designed with the customer in mind

Practically every organization that has invested in front office customer service has implemented an IVR system. There is a great deal of value in routing the customer to the right agent that is capable of assisting. However, as I previously discussed, IVR doesn’t always work as it was intended. Customers zeroing out or unable to input the appropriate information due to limited data entry associated with touchtone and voice recognition often cause the technology to fail on delivering value.

This causes customers to get frustrated and overlook the benefit of IVR. It also increases AHT and solution accuracy provided by the organization. However, it’s not like organizations can simply provide every customer with the extension of their best technical support person.

The fact of the matter is, when customers need help, the call center hotline is still a widely used method for receiving assistance. Routing those customers to a system they are familiar with that is more capable of providing improved assistance is not a bad idea.

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