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We are in an era where the global market is shifting toward a more personalized, directed method of enterprise communication with customers. At the same time, enterprises are looking for ways to maintain an increased level of communication with customers while controlling costs. This is leading to increased opportunities for outbound interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Outbound IVR is the next-generation contact center technology for automated, phone-based outbound communications. It uses IVR technology to originate and execute outbound calls with customers.

Today, outbound IVR is used primarily for proactive communications, allowing enterprises to reach out to customers through outbound call campaigns that use a combination of prerecorded messages or text-to-speech and interactive dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) and/or speech recognition applications. Speech recognition and DTMF are used as the primary interfaces and can verify customer details, complete transactions, and route calls to a live agent.

According to Datamonitor’s Hosted Speech and Outbound IVR Services report, spending on hosted outbound IVR services in North America will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent during the next five years as more enterprises leverage outbound communications strategically to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.  

The bottom line is outbound IVR can be used to provide a service that is not economically feasible for live agents to achieve. An example of this is when alerting customers of flight delays, which are time-sensitive and require many calls to be made in a short time period. Transactions can be carried out entirely via an IVR system that reduces the need for agents; this could include checking a bank balance, finding out about flight details, or paying a bill. The call is routed back to an agent only when the customer needs further assistance, and agents spend their time speaking with customers who need their help or have more complex inquiries.

Although outbound speech applications are in development, the leading deployments in outbound IVR have been using simple DTMF applications such as identity confirmation, prescription reminders, and overdraft notifications. As adoption of the technology increases, outbound IVR will be used with SMS, MMS, emails, and direct mail for proactive customer communications. Unlike these other technologies, outbound IVR provides a greater level of sophistication for verification and notification where the caller’s identity can be verified and receipt of notification can be recorded. Outbound IVR is in its early stages, but there is strong uptake in the market. Moving forward, it will remain a high growth market for years to come as enterprises look to increase levels of communication with their customers.

Datamonitor provides more detailed and comprehensive studies of the speech recognition market. For more information on Datamonitor’s research, please go to www.datamonitor.com or email Daniel Hong at dhong@datamonitor.com.

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