Can a Chat Bot Replace Your IVR System?

February, 20 2020 3:29 pm

For a long time, now, contact centers have relied heavily on the interactive voice response system - also known as IVR - to direct consumer traffic and create self-service options. It makes sense; a good IVR system can lower labor costs, improve efficiency, and enhance customer experience. But could a chat bot be doing the same thing?

These days, companies are using chat bots to accomplish numerous tasks that were once the job of live agents. They can also be employed to handle many of the same jobs your IVR system once did. The question is - are they capable of doing it better?

What is the Difference Between a Chat Bot and IVR Systems?

It may seem at first glance like there’s a large variation between chat bot technology and your typical IVR, but in reality the two are increasingly similar. Because today’s IVR systems are becoming ever-more intelligent, the line between the two is becoming thinner and thinner.

A good chat bot is available around the clock, every day of the year. So is a fully-featured IVR system. Both systems also require organization and use of consumer data. So, what is the difference between these two systems?

Typically, the difference comes down to the way they present to the consumer - and the amount of time and effort it takes for them to accrue and utilize data effectively. A chat bot will usually need more assistance from live agents or consumers in collecting and making use of data, as it is a more complex task. Likewise, the chat bot may seem more interactive to the consumer, since its format is more visual. In reality, it is often conducting the same kind of work that an IVR system would, but simply taking a different route to the same end goal.

Neither the chat bot nor the intelligent IVR system is capable of completely replacing agents when it comes to great customer service. While they may answer basic questions and provide solutions to elementary problems, they often require elevation to actual agents for anything complicated. They also fundamentally lack the human element that many consumers are looking for with their service. This is okay, though - your customers know the limitations of bots and automated systems and expect them. Your job is to choose the best one for your business and outfit your operation accordingly.

What are Chat Bots Good For?

Many businesses have chat bots available on their websites, but what are these programs best for? Most people ignore them while browsing a site, so are they really useful at all?

The truth is that your chat bot will be as useful as you make it. An annoying pop up that won’t leave consumers alone during their visit is likely to rub them the wrong way - and keep them from utilizing the help available through your live chat feature. However, a well-placed, obvious yet out-of-the-way chat window prompt will allow consumers to come to you when they need something, guiding them through prompts or allowing them to submit questions or concerns to an automated assistant. This can mean the difference in a satisfying experience with a chat bot and one that leaves users wishing you had just stuck with the IVR system instead.

What About IVR Makes It Intelligent?

Most of us have experience with IVR systems. If you have called a pharmacy, help line, or nearly any business in the last ten years, you have likely heard the traditional, “Press one for this option, two for the next option,” type of menu. While these are commonplace for a reason - they are practical and easy to implement, inexpensive to maintain - they are not always the favorite of today’s consumer.

No one likes being stuck in the seemingly-endless loop of listening to automated instructions, being bounced from one prompted line to another, or listening through all of the prompts only to hear that all live agents are busy. It isn’t very satisfying - and it can yield a bad experienced for consumers and a worse satisfaction rating for you.

How do you make an IVR system that is truly intelligent? Start by creating better, more intuitive options. Options should lead to a better interaction with a real agent or better, more comprehensive service for the consumer - or both.

Say your caller wants to check the status of an order. This is a task that can usually be handled automatically, but which they may appreciate feeling like they are receiving personalized service during. You can do both of these things with a top-quality IVR system. IVR that uses voice synthesis and allows for simple task performance like this will create a better self-service experience and keep consumers from having to talk to a live agent if they don’t need to. For many modern consumers, this is a huge bonus!

Of course, there are still plenty of instances when a live agent is the only way to go. This is when a smart IVR system is even more imperative. Directing a call over to a live agent when a problem cannot be handled by the automated system is just one more way your system can show its smarts - and keep consumers happy.

Ultimately, the decision between a chat bot and an intelligent IVR system comes down to the needs of your business and the preferences of your management team. Most business who employ chat bots do so in addition to their IVR systems. Look for technology that allows you to integrate any number of systems seamlessly into your current operations to ensure that you have exactly what you need.

Whether you’re looking to employ a chat bot or just tune up your IVR system, ChaseData has the tools and technology you need. Improve your approaches using our industry-leading software solutions and give your consumers more by equipping your agents better. Whatever you need to better serve consumers and clients, we can help you outfit your operation with it. Give us a call today to learn more!

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