When IVR meets Visual Assistance – Retaining the Lost Waiting Time

Visual Assistance and IVR in the call center


IVR technologies are limited without sight

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with customers through the use of voice and touch-tone telephone keypad. Today, IVR is a core technology well entrenched in call centers that has transcended way beyond its role as a simple customer routing system.  

A range of emerging technologies have effectively transformed IVR from a frustrating customer waiting experience to an effective process with self service capabilities. However, despite the plethora of IVR technologies advancing its use within the call center, none of these technologies offer the true key to effective communication – sight, or the ability for the system to see what the customer is seeing.


Bringing visual assistance to IVR

Humans are visual creatures. With 50% of brain capacity used for visual processing, visual communication leads to instant, clear understanding. For example, imagine that a customer would like to pay his electricity bill via the IVR. Instead of entering his account details, confirming his bill amount, and then entering the 12 digits of his credit card, expiry date, 3-digit security code, and confirming multiple times – he can simply upload an image of the bill and credit card.

This visual data can be either processed manually at the back office, or even better, be automatically processed with computer vision AI. Enabling image input into IVR shortens the entire process significantly: shorter average handling times (AHT), shorter call times, and best of all, an opportunity to wow customers.


The process of visual integration

During the IVR conversation, the customer is requested to upload an image or video. Once the customer accepts / agrees, he receives a link that opens his smartphone camera, so he can show the agent the issue or indicate proof of documentation. This visual data is loaded to the enterprise’s visual engagement system and assigned to the relevant case in the CRM.

Potentially, this visual information can be processed with computer vision AI to identify devices, faces, text within images, and to cross correlate this data with existing information in the system. These insights can be used for smart classification and routing, faster diagnosis of the issue by the agent, or efficient self service guidance provided by a bot.


Assisted Service

Visual assistance in IVR can be a force multiplier for human-assisted service. Before being connected with an agent, the customer can be prompted to upload visuals. This helps the agent with rapid diagnosis and prompt resolution.

For example, a customer calls to report trouble with his washing machine. The IVR directs him to take a photo of the serial number, and this data is automatically cross-checked to determine the machine’s warranty status. Next, the IVR asks the customer to show the display panel. With computer vision AI, the bot identifies the device model and error message, classifies the case accordingly and routes it to the relevant support team.

When the human agent has his first contact with the customer, he already knows the problem, the solution and whether the fix is covered by warranty. The waiting time and AHT will dramatically decrease, due to the elimination of back-and-forth communication, and the immediate connection to the right support team.


Self Service

While there are more and more technologies aiming to enable IVR to deliver self service, visual assistance is the technology enabler that will take IVR to the next level. For example, a customer calls to order new capsules for his coffee machine. The IVR asks the customer to upload an image of the machine. The bot automatically identifies the machine’s model, and suggests compatible capsules and other upsells. When the customer is ready to purchase, instead of entering his ID number, membership number or payment details – he simply uploads images of his ID, membership card and credit card.

Visual uploads enable a powerful new array of self service tasks that were never possible before – activities such as ‘show me how to set up / install / fix / operate’ a specific product or device. While these activities are sure to excite customers, the main value is time savings for the enterprise call center – reduced call center volume, less waiting time, shorter AHT, quicker and more robust self service, and higher success rates.


IVR and Visual Assistance: A synergistic relationship

IVR has the potential to add significant value to call centers by expanding it supporting technologies. Integrating visual assistance within IVR enables efficient usage of time, by reducing waiting time as well as AHT.  IVR has the ability to streamline assisted service by enhancing call classification and routing to the relevant agent, while acquiring essential information from the customer. IVR can also increase its self service capabilities, and as a result, further reduce call center volume while enhancing customer satisfaction.

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