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Speech Recognition And IVR: Are They Good For Business?

Speech Recognition And IVR: Are They Good For Business?

The automation possibilities that are provided by speech recognition and IVR technologies appear to be answering the prayers of many business owners. Speech recognition and IVR programs give business owners the ability to be able to run a functional phone system using a much smaller staff than what traditional solutions for call centers offer, with the promise of a smaller staff directly translating into substantial cost savings.  

However, there is much more to operating a successful business than just watching the bottom line. Although speech recognition and IVR technologies provide an acceptable solution for a limited number of organizational issues, they should not be viewed as a “magic bullet” that will cure all aspects of a company phone systems.  

Speech Recognition And IVR Technology Limitations 

Speech recognition and IVR technologies have come a very long since call centers adopted it in the 1970s. The technologies now can identify spoken phrases and words with a higher degree of accuracy more than ever, which allows companies to get more flexible and larger automated response systems set up than they could even ten years ago. The actual technology holds plenty of promise while IVR algorithms are getting more and more sophisticated. It is capable of integrating with business applications is offering an entire new realm of possibilities for all different sizes of businesses.   

However, despite all of the advancement they have seen, mainstream IVR technologies still are not capable of being able to replicate the conversational flexibility and intelligent level of a human being. So if your phone system needs more than just inputting yes/no responses or being able to make a selection from a multiple-choice option list, then basic IV technology won’t be able to meet the needs of your callers.   

When IVR Works

You would be very hard pressed now to find a modern call center that does not use some type of IVR – and there is a very good reason for that! IVR technology provides an efficient and effective solution to identify the general needs of a caller, to route the caller over to the proper phone line, and to queue them within this line accurately. 

As long as queuing, routing, and identification can be achieved through speaking just a couple of simple words or by inputting characters using a keypad, then using IVR technology is justified. For those simple tasks, in fact, IVR technology may arguably do a superior job compared to a human, especially due when there is huge volume of calls coming in.   

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When IVR Solutions Fail 

IVR technology fails in two main ways to live up to all of its promise: 

The only responses that IVR systems recognize are those that it has been programmed to recognize. 

An IVR system also is functionally limited by the ability of each caller to navigate its branches effectively. In practice, each IVR system function as a kind of complex guessing game. 

On the one hand, there are business owners trying to offer automated solutions for certain needs that have not been vocalized yet by their callers. 

On the other hand, there are callers trying to figure out what appears to be an arbitrary series of responses that will guide them to the answers they need. It isn’t surprising that a majority callers find it difficult to navigate IVR systems, especially when compared to talking to a live human being. A majority of mainstream IVR system haven’t evolved yet to the level of problem-solving and flexibility capacity that a live all center operator has.  

Bottom Line on Speech Recognition and IVR Technology 

IVR solutions are a necessary evil for those large organizations and businesses that get huge volumes of calls on a daily basis, and play a limited but integral role in a majority of modern PBX systems. However, every organization, especially medium and small sized companies, need to limit the IVR usage of their phone system to its absolute minimum.  

Although fully integrated IVR solutions might cut operational expenses, it does so at the expense of an organization’s quality of customer service. Ultimately, no organization can last very long if it doesn’t meet the needs of the customers adequately no matter how much it cut the costs of an organization.

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