Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology has come a long way. What started in the 1960s as a way to process requests and route calls based on phone keypad entries has become more automated and intelligent. Now, equipped to understand natural language, IVR allows customers to make requests in their own words. And these conversational customer service capabilities are poised to become the standard for customer experience.

When first developed, IVR used dual-tone, multi-frequency (DTMF) signaling to process requests and route calls. Later, the introduction of computer-telephony integration (CTI) enabled businesses to automate some IVR self-service options. For example, CTI software made determinations about an incoming caller based on the customer’s automatic number identification (ANI). By comparing that ANI against a database of customer information, the system identified who the caller was as well as any number of variables—location, language, license type, etc. Using this information, the system presented various offers via IVR and, if needed, routed the customer through a specific call flow to connect him or her to an appropriate call center agent.

This level of automation created new possibilities, but the complexity of business operations, paired with IVR, often led to customer frustration and a poor customer experience. A few common complaints were:

  • Having to listen to numerous menu options before hearing one that matched your problem
  • Keying in the wrong account number accidentally and having to start the process all over
  • Wanting to simply speak to a live agent

The next step forward—keyword speech recognition technology—offered some improvement. With it, customers can choose whether they want to use a keypad or communicate verbally when making menu selections. For example, the system prompts the customer: “To request your account balance, say or press 1.”

But keyword speech recognition isn’t without issues; verbal selections are limited to a set of pre-configured speech recognition terms that the IVR system recognizes and processes.

Conversational Interactions Using Voice AI

The latest IVR technology enables businesses to create true conversational-based voice responses that extend beyond speech recognition. Instead of hearing a list of IVR options, a customer states why he’s calling. The system then interprets the conversation and processes the call flow appropriately. This shift from keyword spotting to Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is not constrained to a fixed set of responses, letting customers speak in their own words.

These conversational interaction flows will become the de facto standard for creating customer experiences that are established through any synchronous communications medium. Businesses will benefit from improved first call resolution and interaction routing accuracy, while customers will get a more natural, conversational self-service experience.

As a member of the Amazon Partner Network (APN), Genesys is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring NLU products to the contact center to improve customer experiences. If you’re attending AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, register for our breakout session to learn more about how Genesys is teaming with Amazon Lex to implement conversational customer service on the PureCloud platform.

MCL207: Amazon Lex Integration with IVR

Date: Tuesday, November 29

Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Location: Venetian, Level 1, Casanova 502

Jack Nichols

Jack Nichols

With over 15 years of technical and leadership experience Jack Nichols serves as the Director of PureCloud Product Management leading the organizations strategy on developing our platform partner ecosystem. Prior to joining the PureCloud organization Jack was a member of...