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November 27, 2012

WebRTC May Spell the End of IVR Technology

Will WebRTC make interactive voice response (IVR) obsolete?

First, you might ask…what’s WebRTC? It’s an acronym that stands for “Web Real-time Communications,” and it’s actually a standard: a free, open project that enables rich, high-quality, real-time communication applications to be developed in the browser via simple Java APIs and HTML5.

So how will it make IVRs obsolete?

According to Chris Vitek, writing for the Society of Telecommunications Consultants, it’s all about the amount of effort a customer needs to put into a transaction. Web-based self-service tends to be a low-effort process, while IVRs – with their often unavoidable headaches, pressing buttons and speaking phrases that may or may not be recognized – tend to be high effort.

Customers who are put through low-effort paces by companies tend to be more loyal. In fact, a recent study found that 94 percent of customers that have low effort experiences with a company will repurchase products or services. By contrast, only 4 percent of high-effort experiences yield repurchases.

In other words, in today’s multimedia communications environment, any company require high effort out of its customers is likely not long for this world, and any technology that requires high effort out of customers should be for the scrap heap.

That’s you, IVR. 

So how will WebRTC make customer contact low effort? Vitek outlines a typical WebRTC transaction, as follows:

“The customer accesses the corporate Web site and locates some content about their needs. They may brows a page or three, but…there are click-to-text or click-to-call buttons on each page. Once the decision is made to contact customer service, they have a choice, text or call. They click-to-call and the call begins ringing in the correct queue immediately. The context of the Web browsing travels with the call. When the agent answered the call the context is presented to the agent (cookie data).”

“After welcoming the caller, to buy some time to review the context, the agent asks the caller what their needs are. Further, because WebRTC supports screen transfer the agent or the customer can push forms or content between each other without the need for the customer to download an app,” the company added.

In other words, while the onus is entirely on the customer to reach the right place with an IVR, in WebRTC transactions, the customer simply knocks on the door and is shown the right place by a rep. With two such processes to choose from, it’s no wonder customers are increasingly choosing the latter and declining the former.

Edited by Braden Becker
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