Although useful initially, IVR (interactive voice response) looks to be nearing the end of its useful life in some applications. AI and advances in natural language processing (NLP) technology are taking customer service to a whole new level. With improved efficiency and happier consumers, chatbots could not only improve your VoIP presence but make your business more efficient and profitable.

Moving from IVR frustrations to chatbot communications

IVR systems help to reduce waiting time by delivering pre-recorded messages to the caller and directing them onwards to further IVR menus or to the desired recipient or department based upon their responses. However, these pre-set options don’t always fit consumer needs. The frustrating limitation of IVR is communicating what you need as a consumer, where the technology is constrained by a restricted set of specific inputs and outputs. In contrast, chatbots are increasingly harnessing algorithms and the processing of natural language to adapt more efficiently to context and individual inputs.

The likes of Language Understanding Intelligent Services can alleviate the frustrations and constraints inherent in IVR. According to a 2017 report by Ubisend, of those consumers interviewed, 21% considered chatbots to be an easier means of contacting businesses.

Thanks to sophisticated language processing capabilities, chatbots are constantly improving, utilising organic human speech, processing it and responding appropriately. This also means there will be fewer semantic errors by the chatbot and less repetition required from the user, as more dialects, intonations and speech styles are integrated and recognised. Where requests are more complex, these enquiries can be passed to a live agent via email, live chat, telephone, social media and so forth.

VoIP and integration of AI

Chatbots can already be implemented through apps, the telephone, websites and messaging applications. With the burgeoning popularity of VoIP services, it seems reasonable to predict that chatbots could be increasingly integrated into cloud phone systems. VoIP systems with AI integration could reduce costs, increase staffing flexibility and improve the consumer experience, so it’s unsurprising that businesses are keen to adopt the new technology.

Ensuring that your business has a high-quality international VoIP wholesale provider, such as IDT, will ensure cost-effective communications while investing in chatbot technology will also put you ahead of the curve in improving customer service.

The need for effective interaction

Consumers typically want consistently high-quality service across all platforms and access to the latest means of interaction with brands. Capital One, for example, now enables consumers to get in touch through Amazon Alexa to get updates on their accounts, while the Bank of America employs a chatbot via Facebook Messenger.

With Chatbots able to handle routine enquiries and more effectively respond to new, varied requests, staff are freed up from mundane, routine interactions. This leads to more efficient handling of enquiries and customer direction to relevant departments, streamlining the process in a way that IVR currently fails to do effectively.

The versatile benefits of chatbots

The information collected by chatbots ranges from frequently asked questions and the number of total users to details on engagement rates. This analytics data is priceless for both the advancement of the chatbot software itself and the business, feeding into a cycle of ongoing refinement.

Chatbots can also use push notifications, to provide updates and give prompts that trigger consumer engagement. With CRM information, they can also directly engage with consumers based upon previous activity. This not only boosts engagement but helps to deliver a more personalised approach.

Chatbots are becoming more lifelike as the software evolves. It’s possible to have a more conversational approach than ever before, with the likes of Alexa, Cortana and Siri. The use of this technology in day to day life also means that users are typically more familiar and comfortable with AI interaction when dealing with companies.

Chatbots: the future of consumer interaction

Investment in customer service is vital, with Gartner reporting it to be the most significant factor in business success. IVR is nearing the end of the road as it’s already leaving consumers dissatisfied and frustrated with no signs of improvement, whereas AI and chatbots are showing great promise even at an early stage. With plenty of scope for improvement, it stands to reason that the customer service experience will continue to benefit as the technology matures.

The future for chatbots is exciting, and the ability for the technology to learn means that its potential is virtually unlimited. Chatbots can learn about the consumer, integrate this into responses, and ask more relevant questions while providing more accurate, helpful replies. The end result is a happy consumer base, faster response and resolution times, a more profitable business and more productive customer service departments who are free to attend to urgent tasks or more challenging enquiries.