Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has been a classic on everyone’s lips when calling call centers but, lately, the tremendous growth in the use of chatbots to provide online attention has come to challenge these interactive voice systems.

We wonder if both technologies have a place in the contact center or if the battle between the two will end with a single winner. Between IVR and chatbots, who will reign?

They don’t always have the same scope

The IVR essentially serves two purposes:

1. Identify the reason for the customer’s call to route it to the best agent according to the type of management and the criteria defined by the company

2. Manage automated inquiries directly with the telephone keypad or through voice recognition software. The important word of the IVR is voice, which, as its name indicates, can only attend transactions made by phone.

Chatbots can be used for all digital channels since they are easily integrated into social networks, FAQ and live chat.

Therefore, an initial conclusion could be “everyone in their place”, positioning the IVR for calls and the chatbot for digital customer service channels.


Preferences can vary

In addition, we know that a millennial will always choose digital channels when they are available and that they are more likely to use chatbots.


However, many people still prefer to speak with a human or write an email, as we have already mentioned in another article, the voice channel is still alive and more than ever!

On the other hand, for people with disabilities, the chatbot opens up new communication opportunities. While individuals with very confidential inquiries, they may not rely on robots to do business, for example regarding their finances or their health.

So a second conclusion would be that once again, the customer decides what he wants, and not everyone wants voice or chatbots depending on their circumstances.


It is neccesary to choose between one or the other?

Many contact center managers say that to provide an outstanding customer experience, it is better to completely ditch tools such as IVR, as it takes a lot of effort on the customer, and that an agent should be able to handle any customer inquiry or management.

We believe that this theory can be applied to some businesses that have a simple product or single point of contact. However, most companies that offer multiple products, serve in multiple languages, or have processes that need specific approval cannot simplify the service to that point yet.

Thus, both the IVR and the chatbot can have a lot of value when it comes to accompanying the client in the management of their procedures. For example, it can answer basic queries (although increasingly complicated), provide information in real time and proactively, and above all it can identify with more certainty the reason for the consultation to ensure that the client speaks with an agent who can assist them.

Consequently, these tools contribute, on one hand, to improve the resolution in the first contact, and, on the other hand, to divert traffic.

We hope that this point of view on the advantages and challenges of the IVR and the chatbot has allowed you to consider how you want to organize it in your business. The IVR seems to us that it is not yet redundant and that it can coexist perfectly with a chatbot. However, all contact center players, including software manufacturers, should already be thinking about the best way to innovate with tools that are still widely used by customers.

We’d love to follow the conversation and discuss your contact center software needs with you. Do not hesitate to contact us!


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