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Frost & Sullivan Award Underscores Innovation in IVR Technology

  By , Call Center Solutions Contributor

Interactive voice response (IVR) technology has been used for decades in contact centers to route calls and for self-service purposes, helping customers get answers to the most routine questions. The goal is to offload certain simple questions from live agents, keeping call queue lengths down and allowing customers access to immediate answers.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t as simple as we would like. As customer transactions have become more complex, the IVR has often struggled to keep up. Innovation in the IVR – including sending it to the cloud and making it more configurable and even sometimes visual for smartphones – has helped the technology keep pace with the modern omnichannel contact center.

Analyst group Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) recently recognized some of the most innovative players in the IVR marketplace. The group presented IVR technology company VoltDelta with its 2013 North American Enabling Technology Award for innovation and growth in the voice self-service market. Frost & Sullivan said it conferred the award based on VoltDelta’s (News - Alert) innovation and investment in the market, as well as several customer deployments and new product and service introductions.

One particular customer deployment for a healthcare provider involved overcoming some of the most significant challenges with today’s IVR technology: accuracy and voice user interface (VUI) design. In terms of accuracy, particularly in the healthcare market, member ID numbers composed of long alphanumeric strings can be particularly complex for the average IVR due to letters and numbers that sound similar. A successful speech-enabled IVR solution needs to offer high levels of accuracy to overcome these challenges. Secondly, a modern IVR, particularly one in the healthcare market that may be regularly accessed by seniors, must be easily navigated and offer robust error recovery to prevent callers from simply “giving up.” Frost & Sullivan determined that VoltDelta has hit the mark on both these points.

According to Frost & Sullivan, VoltDelta’s Voice User Interface (VUI) designers were able to identify speech patterns in the alphanumeric member ID string to help improve accuracy. If the speech recognition engine was unable to understand the caller’s member ID on the first try, the IVR would ask a series of questions about the ID such as “Does the member ID start with P?”

The result was an impressive 35 percent completion rate for the IVR (the percentage of calls successfully handled by the IVR), which took pressure off agents and translated directly to cost savings. The healthcare company believes that over time, this completion rate will go even higher.  For busy contact centers, the value has multiple facets: not only does it lead to lower call rates and fewer demands on agents, but it boosts customer satisfaction and allows contact centers to better hit key performance indicators. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee