Voice Self-Service Is Essential for Achieving Goals
A third-quarter 2009 survey asked 107 enterprise, contact center, and IT executives and decision-makers from around the globe to identify their top goals and priorities for 2010. Surprisingly voice self-service solutions (also known as interactive voice response systems or IVRs) are expected to play a key role in helping enterprises of all sizes achieve their 2010 objectives.
The top 2010 goal for enterprise and contact center executives is improving customer service. The second most important goal for enterprise executives is cutting operating costs; this is similar to the number two goal for contact center leaders, which is to improve productivity. See Figure 1. Companies where contact center VPs and leaders have aligned their top goals with those of the executive suite are much more likely to succeed in retaining and enhancing customer relationships.
The DMG benchmark study shows that IT has its own priorities; IT’s top goals for 2010 are to meet the needs of business customers and to keep the enterprise’s technology and applications running at optimal levels. This shows that IT organizations are entering 2010 with a strong appreciation of the need to support their business clients’ goals and objectives. It’s disappointing that IT does not make an effort to understand their customers’ goals, as this would help organizations to meet them better on an ongoing basis. This goal misalignment is the primary reason for the lack of trust between IT and contact centers.
Figure 1: Comparison of Enterprise, Contact Center and IT Goals for 2010
Improving customer service
Meeting needs of business customers
Keeping technology running at optimal levels
Cutting operating costs
Increasing use of self-service systems
Standardizing and simplifying IT infrastructure
Data center and network consolidation
Preserving existing revenue base / Increasing retention
Using technology for strategic advantage
Regulatory and Security
Notes: * Indicates goals that tied with other goals for the same number of votes. Table includes all goals that received that received 1 or more votes.
IVR to the Rescue
An astounding 28.1 percent of companies not currently using IVR systems are in the process of looking for a voice self-service solution to help them meet their goals. The recession has pushed companies that were previously hesitant to use voice self-service automation to make investments in these solutions. An IVR initiative that is planned, designed and rolled out properly can reduce the volume of calls to live agents by 20 percent to 90 percent (over time), depending upon the purpose of the contact center and the tasks programmed into the solution. The trend toward increased adoption of IVR is expected to continue even after the economy recovers. The benefits and cost savings from a well-designed IVR implementation generally convince even the most reluctant managers that these solutions are effective both for their customers and their cost structure.
Figure 2 shows the primary drivers for current and prospective voice self-service users who are considering investments in hosted/managed service IVRs. Two obvious reasons why prospective users are seriously considering hosted IVR solutions are to avoid capital expense and minimize start-up costs, not surprising during tough economic times. A less obvious reason for looking into hosting is to acquire the expertise along with the solution.
Figure 2: Primary Drivers for Considering a Hosted/Managed Service IVR, Comparison of Current and Prospective IVR Users
Current IVR Users
Prospective IVR Users
Do not have in-house speech recognition domain expertise
Improved flexibility and scalability on-demand
Do not have IT resources to maintain the self-service system
To avoid capital expenditure
Do not want to house and maintain server hardware
Too expensive to have in-house IT resources to maintain the self-service systems
To avoid large up-front start-up costs
Already using a hosted or managed service IVR
Using ongoing IVR optimization program to improve effectiveness of voice self-service solution
Want a third party to maintain all aspects of the application (hardware, software, application development and ongoing support)
Third-party vendor perceived to be more flexible and responsive than internal IT resources
Do not feel the need to own IVR solution
Availability of packaged and cost-effective voice self-service applications
Other (please specify)
To obtain a free copy of the 51-page report, IVR to the Rescue! A Benchmarking Study of 2010 Enterprise, Contact Center and IT Priorities and the Critical Role of IVRs in Achieving These Goals, visit the DMG Consulting Web site at www.dmgconsult.com/2010goalsandIVR.
Donna Fluss is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis, and consulting services. She can be reached at email@example.com.