Telephone self-service has been around for nearly 50 years, with interactive voice response (IVR) units becoming widespread, but it’s probably fair to say that it hasn’t been one of the most popular inventions of all time.
Businesses are always looking for ways to improve IVR’s image and convince customers that it can provide a positive experience. And that’s why combining smartphones and self-service is proving such a popular development.
Out And About
One recent survey (from Statista.com) put ownership of smartphones amongst 25 to 34 year olds in the UK at eighty-four percent. Even amongst 35 – 54 year olds, it’s seventy-two percent, and at 55 +, it’s twenty-five percent. Worldwide, it’s estimated that more than one quarter of the global population was using smartphones by the end of 2015. So, they’re pretty popular ... and that means that people want and expect to use them for all kinds of things while they’re out and about and going about their daily routine.
And there are many reasons why organisations want to contact people on their smartphones: alerting customers to imminent, late or cancelled deliveries, reminders of doctor’s appointments or to say that their medication is ready for collection, reminders that monthly payments are due, enabling customers to complete simple processes such as registration or ordering, notifying customers of special offers, new services and products, keeping account details up to date and responding to feedback, fraud prevention, ID verification … the list is endless.
And that means making use of technological solutions that can add next generation capabilities to IVR (Interactive Voice Response); capabilities that make customer service fast and easy by combining speech, touch, and visual display all in the same place.
IVR has certainly evolved since the first free 0800 numbers in the 1960s, but not enough it seems to eliminate having to listen endlessly to multiple menu options, repeat information over and over again and wait on the line for the next available customer representative.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if customers could be empowered to help themselves and automate the whole process at a time and place convenient to themselves, without having to wait for a customer service representative to do it for them?
One company I know of, a leading global credit card company, issuing over 100 million cards annually and employing around 63,500 people, used one of these smart multi-modal solutions that enables speech, touch, and visual display in IVR interactions to launch both its charge verification and pay-by-phone services. In less than 12 weeks, they transformed their IVR calls and generated 85% call acceptance rates and a 92% success rate. Not only that, but 90% of end users rated their customer experience at 4 or 5 (out of 5) stars. Together, these have generated annual savings of around $12M (£7.6 M) through fraud prevention and day-to-day operational savings.
That’s pretty impressive I think and demonstrates that engaging customers by sending them rich content that enables data input by touch, type or speech, can help make completing complex tasks a lot faster and easier for all concerned.
Using Big Data and predictive analytics, customer interactions can be personalised and predictive, making them a lot more relevant and reducing time wasting. Understanding the reason for the customer’s calls and anticipating how you can help them, makes it a much better customer experience all round, plus using Big Data can provide a fuller understanding of how each channel performs and contributes to the interconnected relationships.
It’s not just giving customers a choice of ways to communicate, – offering them various options so they can choose which one they feel the most comfortable with – it’s also empowering customers to control their own time and availability by increasing self-service automation.
So if you’re busy or it’s not convenient to talk, you don’t have to – you can just reply by text or by replying to a link that’s been sent to you via your display screen. If it’s about something sensitive or confidential – about a late payment for example – then you may feel more comfortable completing a financial transaction via your screen, rather than having to talk out loud to an agent. Using the Web, mobile, chat and social media ensures a continuous, seamless transition of information from one communication channel to another.
Of course, the company also benefits from the cost savings associated with more end users completing their journeys using the self service method. There’s no app involved either, so nothing to download, no opening the door to a torrent of spam and no loss of privacy or security.
All in all, it’s bringing the call centre into the twenty first century and how people live today and that can only be for the better.
About Nicholas Mitchell
Nick Mitchell is the Managing Director, EMEA at intuitive customer experience company, 7. Nick has a background of delivering IT supported transformation programs when he worked for organisations such as Logica and Andersen Consulting, while at 7 he works with some of Europe’s most prominent brands to deliver a more intuitive and omnichannel customer experience. For more information, please visit: www.247-inc.com