How Conversational AI Virtual Agents Can Transform the Enterprise IVR Experience

You’re frustrated. You received an email about your bank account, so you called to ask about the issue. But you can’t. You’re on the phone with an interactive voice response (IVR) system that is presenting options that aren’t relevant to you and won’t send you through to a human being. Eventually, you get the issue resolved. But it was a long, painful experience.

This isn’t confined to your bank. Most enterprises that utilize IVRs suffer from this problem – including your own company in all likelihood. In fact, a Vonage study found that 61% of consumers feel IVRs are a negative in the customer experience, while only 13% find them more useful than talking to a human.

For large organizations that must provide service for a greater number of customers and volume of customer service calls, this is an even bigger problem. Customers have the highest expectations of large name-brand companies to provide a personal yet simple experience. The good news is that experience is now possible with Conversational AI Virtual Agents.

How Do Conversational AI Virtual Agents Differ From IVRs?

IVRs often fall at the first hurdle – engaging with the caller – and rarely recover to provide a smooth experience. Conversational AI Virtual Agents differ because, as the name indicates, they offer a personalized, conversational experience. Using data absorbed over a large number of interactions to add to their initial dialog design, Conversational AI Virtual Agents imitate human interactions, rather than presenting a restrictive number of responses to a limited number of inquiries.

This naturally sounds human centered to begin with by nature of being conversational, but it can be even more so. At 1904labs, our HCDagile approach permeates every project – including our AI Enabled Customer Service solutions. By engaging real human beings at every stage of the project, from observing and interviewing those involved in the call center to creating and instituting the roadmap to the North Star vision, people are at the center of everything we do. That is what creates the human-centered nature of Conversational AI Virtual Agents – a system that is educated in real conversations and ready to help real people.

How Do Conversational AI Virtual Agents Change the Caller Experience?

It might seem simple from the above, but Conversational AI Virtual Agents do more than just personalize the initial interaction between the caller and the phone system. They completely change the experience from the traditional enterprise IVR.

Unfortunately, the current enterprise IVR is stilted at every stage:

  • Greetings are mechanical, leading to immediate frustration for the caller.
  • Authentication processes aren’t natural and can immediately lead to high abandonment rates, especially when the IVR fails to understand them or interrupts them.
  • Typical menu-prompt IVRs struggle to accurately determine the caller’s intent. This leads to even more people abandoning the call out of frustration. If the intent is understood, the caller may be able to resolve the issue through self-service.
  • If needed, the caller finally gets routed to a live agent, but they often must reauthenticate and express their inquiry again – and often get rerouted once more to another agent.
  • Finally, the caller can resolve their issue after talking to the IVR and multiple agents in a repetitive manner to do so.

Overall, a frustrating experience, regardless of whether the caller’s inquiry is resolved.

Here is how Conversational AI Virtual Agents can change enterprise IVR:

  • The Virtual Agent greets the caller in a warm, intelligent manner, allowing the caller to respond conversationally so the Virtual Agent can authenticate and determine intent.
  • If possible, the Virtual Agent presents the right self-service option for the caller to resolve their issue.
  • If not, the Virtual Agent routes the caller to the correct live agent in a frictionless manner.

What are the Business Benefits of Replacing My IVR With Conversational AI Virtual Agents?

Conversational AI Virtual Agents undoubtedly remove friction for callers, but that also results in real business benefits. The following are just some of them:

  • Higher call deflection and containment rates due to the improved caller experience that Conversational AI Virtual Agents bring. The self-service capabilities help callers resolve simple issues that the traditional menu-based IVR couldn’t, ultimately driving lower contact center labor costs and higher first contact resolution (FCR) rates.
  • Reduced abandonment rates, which are also the result of the improved caller experience and self-service capabilities. This in turn drives higher CSAT scores.
  • Reduced transfer rates because of intelligent routing through more accurate intent determination than IVRs can produce. This increases both FCR rates and CSAT scores.
  • Reduced handle times through caller ID authentication and computer telephony integration (CTI). This provides a smoother caller experience and also aids the live agents, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

These are just some of the major benefits across industries, but there are more that are applicable depending on your business. Do you want to learn more about Conversational AI Virtual Agents and what they can do for you? Check out our AI Enabled Customer Service solutions or reach out if you see a need for an improved caller experience for your business.


Join us for an upcoming webinar!

Contact Center Transformation: Technology Is Not Enough | 11/4/21

AI holds immense potential to improve contact center experiences – both for customers and agents – but technology isn’t enough to realize value. Join us to learn the steps leaders need to take to lay the groundwork for success in applying AI to customer service.

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