More Calls to Deflect? Ditch Basic IVR – Try a VoiceBot

Do you see a pressing need for more automation in customer service?

It’s been the case for a while. But right now? I think we’re all more aware of the vulnerabilities contact centers have when demand suddenly spikes.

Automation is really the only way to keep pace with that demand. 

So today we’re going to explore a tool that could be a huge boost to you – and to your customers.

Let’s talk about why it’s time to upgrade your IVR to a VoiceBot.

In this post:

  • What is a VoiceBot?
  • Why do we like IVR VoiceBots?
  • 3 reasons people dislike IVR (that you’ll solve with a VoiceBot)

What is a VoiceBot?

The terminology in this emerging field isn’t 100% pinned down – so what is an IVR VoiceBot?

(You can read ‘what is IVR’ here.)  

What we’re talking about is an IVR that ‘understands’ human speech using natural language processing.

The VoiceBot transcribes the user input – words and sentences – making it simple to analyse, categorize and respond to.

VoiceBots are a kind of simple AI, using deep learning to build on their knowledge of customer needs.


Why do we like IVR VoiceBots?

VoiceBots resolve more queries

VoiceBots can offer much faster service than traditional IVR because they don’t rely on option menus.

The pattern of ‘press 1 for service, press 2 for sales’ is gone; instead, callers describe their query in a few words. That means the VoiceBot can receive a lot more information in a lot less time – and customers are less likely to lose patience.

VoiceBots link with different automated services

A VoiceBot can also offer different kinds of automated service, like SMS or email. It’s really simple to integrate systems using APIs so that data and messages can move across them.

That’s useful for everything from multi-step security verification to accessing account data.

VoiceBots can deflect to other channels (intelligently)

A well-integrated VoiceBot can advise customers about which channel to use.

Current IVRs endlessly tell customers to ‘check the company website’. But an intelligent VoiceBot can evaluate customer needs and determine which channel would best help them.

Where necessary it can escalate calls to agents and deliver contextual data from the interaction so far.

VoiceBots can respond dynamically

Most importantly, an IVR VoiceBot can base its actions on current call volume and other factors.

Instead of treating every situation the same way, VoiceBots update their decision making.

That’s especially important for peak management, when you need more callers to use self-service.

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3 reasons people dislike IVR (that you’ll solve with a VoiceBot)

#1 – Playing 20 questions

A traditional IVR system has a very limited input mechanism. It can’t just ask what a customer needs – it has to offer a series of options for the customer to respond to.

Basically, it plays 20 questions with them. Do you need help with a recent purchase? No… Do you have a technical query? No… Do you want to know more about your order? No…

This approach creates friction. By design, you to have to offer more options that the customer doesn’t need than options that they do need.

How does an IVR VoiceBot solve this?

This one’s easy. The problem is with DTMF as an input mechanism (i.e. callers have to hit the keys on their phone to supply information.)

But a VoiceBot uses natural language processing to take customer information. In a nutshell, that means your callers can direct questions to the Bot – and the Bot will understand.

(More specifically: the bot transcribes speech to text and uses keyword analysis to understand the query.)

Clearly, being able to talk to the Bot makes the service a lot more ‘agent-like’. It means no irrelevant questions, no missing menu items and no super-long menus.


#2 – Hitting a brick wall

Some businesses use their IVR to prevent calls from getting to agents.

Well sure – isn’t that what this whole article is about?


Let’s make our objective clear: we want to create an automated tool that can offer customers the services they need. A tool which is fast, easy to use and which delivers quality at scale.

In other words, we don’t want a roadblock. We want an extra road.

How does an IVR VoiceBot solve this?

First, we’re going to make one big assumption…

Let’s assume your ‘VoiceBot’ will be a high-quality, well-integrated VoiceBot!

Will some of your customers want to talk to an agent regardless? Absolutely. Some distrust new technology. Some will have problems beyond the scope of an automated service.

But the rest will use any system that gets the job done.

Just look at the main reasons for disliking last-gen IVR – long menus, irrelevant options and so on. They result from a limited functionality which just won’t exist in the next generation.

What that means is: customers don’t hate IVR. They hate weak customer service.

#3 – Starting from the top

Are you seeing crazy contact volume right now? Pretty much every business in the world is…

Here’s one of the sad problems with big volume: a lot of customers call, start an IVR interaction and then hold for an agent.

And then a lot of them either hang up or get disconnected.

When that happens, they almost all have to start the whole process over again.

How does an IVR VoiceBot solve this?

We want to prevent a lot of repeat calls that get abandoned or disconnected.

So let’s imagine a typical caller. They need some information and they’re fairly determined to speak to an agent. Meanwhile, the call queue is growing steadily.

What are the possible outcomes (in order of your preference?)

1. Your smart VoiceBot provides the information.

2. Your VoiceBot sends the information through another automated channel, like email or SMS.

3. Your VoiceBot places the caller in a virtual queue. The caller receives an outbound call once an agent is free.

4. The caller stays in the queue.

So – there are at least three good options which come before wait on hold’.

Job done?

Not quite. Some callers will still wait on hold and will either abandon or get disconnected. But you can help them avoid ‘starting from the top’.

A VoiceBot turns customer input (speech) into data you can easily categorize and reference later (text).

That data+CTI (to identify the customer by their phone number) means the agent or automation they land with already has their information. Solved!

An IVR VoiceBot might be the best option to help contact centers everywhere manage their peaks better. 

But it’s totally reliant on their ability to integrate systems and automate call flows. 

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