The acronym IVR stands for interactive voice response, sometimes also referred to as VRU (voice response unit). Basically a box (on-premise or in the cloud) that some say is just a glorified robotic auto-attendant. Despite the “interactive” namesake, most customers despise interacting with an IVR.
I believe it has a lot to do with the evolution of computing paradigms. The IVR is like any other computer after all — efficient, programmable, and interactive. And likewise, we have similar frustrations dealing with IVRs as we do computers.
Earlier this year I wondered about crowdsourcing an IVR app. Today we need to redefine IVR as an intelligent voice response…
In all honesty IVR technology has improved significantly in the past decade or so. It used to be scripted rather than programmed. It used to recognize only touch-tone rather than the human voice. It used to be the size of a refrigerator rather than the size of a pizza box.
We hold in our hands today smartphones that enable us to obtain information in an instant, literally at the tip of our fingers. There are mobile apps that learn your behavior and make sense of information from your social networks. Some of these apps focus on just enhancing your calendar, such as pulling in travel and weather information for your next meeting. Other apps like Google Now are more comprehensive in that it learns your daily activities and makes suggestions, e.g. informing you of a nearby hardware depot on your way home because a few hours ago you searched for “window replacement.”
Why can’t an IVR do something even close to that?
For example: Every fall you make a habit of scheduling a flu shot with your medical provider. Why can’t the IVR detect this annual pattern so that when you call in late September and haven’t booked a flu shot appointment, the IVR would remind you?
Another example: Previously you called the IVR on your mobile phone with poor reception and the call got disconnected. Why can’t the IVR text you back automatically with menu options so you don’t have to struggle with DTMF and voice recognition?
Yes, the IVR is due for a major upgrade — from being just interactive to being intelligent.