Visual IVR – what is it and what are the promises?

Visual IVR and it’s goals

Visual IVR schemaIt is a software supplement to any existing front desk operation, which connects to its telephony (VoIP) software. A one implementation of Visual IVR is when a customer calls in the Visual IVR detects if a call from is from a cell phone and sends a text message containing a web link to the personalized visual menu. A customer opens a message and taps on whatever is desired, adds a text if necessary and receives a call back when the operator is ready with the data. There are some options available:

  1. a customer can choose to make a call right away; in this case the connection is made to the most appropriate “department” according to selection
  2.  a customer can be given a choice in the beginning to just hang up and receive a menu, or to continue listening to a voice IVR
  3.  a customer receives a message with a menu only if the call was not answered at all.

Goals of a Visual IVR fully correspond to general business goals – saving money and better servicing customers at the same time.

Saving money

Savings are realized right away in a form of lower telecom bill. Text messages are much cheaper then phone calls. About 75% off all incoming calls are cell phone made, at least 70% of which are smart phones, with 45-60% of smart phone callers opting for a visual menu instead of waiting on a line. Which means saving 23-31% of time spent by customers on passing voice menu and awaiting an answer. All these numbers will only grow in time due to further smart phone penetration and shift in customer preferences. Further more, a link to your Visual IVR is stored within smart phone allowing customers to use it in the future, thus cutting the bill for text messages as well.

Not hiring extra people to handle peak loads is another source of savings.

  1.  Issues have various urgencies and SLAs and less urgent ones cannot be responded much later if a customer is already on the line. Visual IVR allows for that flexibility.
  2. If a customer called to report a known issue, a Visual IVR can show a “known issue” message and offer to notify upon completion, thus totally eliminating a conversation.

Better servicing customers

When a Visual IVR is set to send a text invitation every time a call is dropped or not answered, well, no calls will be left unanswered. Customers getting responses one way or another do feel better about using the same company again and again.

A separate menu can be set for various caller groups to increase the speed of each interaction. For example, there can be options available for VIP customers right on the first screen, which would otherwise be hidden in voice sub-menues. Further more, the Visual IVR system allows greeting with personal message and other data, if the caller’s number is matched in the customers database.

Often customers call to find out a status of an issue, request a detailed report or check a balance. Visual IVR makes everything quicker by including any important info right on the start screen. A favored solution is a 2-3 items dashboard above the menu itself. Further improvement is an actionable dashboard, for example, a balance can be paid right from the Visual IVR menu.

Employing smart phone basic functions means increasing the speed of front desk operations. Visual IVR allows adding text or a photo of an issue, so that a “front desker” quicker understands, what kind of an issue a customer called about. After one such interaction 64% of customers will just skip the call every time, because they prefer texting to a live conversation with a stranger.

Who are the early adopters or Visual IVR?

These are the companies who already run any IVR system, most often using a version of Asterisk software, but who do not want the effort of managing the load. It is typically a company receiving 500 to 10000 calls a month and either taking calls using front desk managers or employing up to 5 dedicated operators. Within our suit of mobile products, I see that Visual IVR comes in 3rd among all initial mobile use cases, with about 10% of all clients starting with it, and almost 90% of those adding a Customer Portal use case afterwards.

The conclusion

Various Visual IVR systems do differ in approach, cost and speed of setup. But all aim to bring value to business clients from both a growing number of smart phones and a shift in customers’ interaction preferences. Two fundamental factors behind most decisions to setup a system is saving money and better servicing customers.

10% of clients start s Visual IVR system as a first step towards mobility. I only hope, that it becomes an integral part of some bigger mobile efficiency effort, for the sake of all us getting faster service and spending less and less resources on our ever growing daily habits.

Visual IVR use cases:

Visual Ivr Example