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IVR Innovations: What Cloud-Based Platforms Can Do for You

In the early days, businesses adopted IVR technology based on cost benefits rather than improved customer experience. But that's not the case any longer -- today it's all about the customer experience, and IVR technology involves so much more than automated response.

The term IVR is misleading because in reality a lot of what is happening in the industry is not traditional IVR at all. Today's solutions can range from simple inbound touch-tone IVRs to complex pre-routing and outbound automation services, utilizing a full range of self-service technologies including speech recognition, text-to-speech, SMS (text) solutions, PCI-compliant payments, call center agent screen-pop, outbound dialer, and voice biometrics. Even the concept of a "phone call" is changing quickly with the introduction of new technologies like WebRTC for browser-based voice communication.

IVR technology is rapidly evolving, and because customers quickly adapt to new levels of service, staying ahead of the curve is important.

1. Voice biometrics for customer authentication

Voice biometrics is rapidly gaining popularity in a variety of industries, and is a great way to verify callers over the telephone to ensure security around the information or service you are offering.

Not that long ago it was pretty hard (and expensive) to get started with voice biometrics. You needed to source a telephony platform, the biometric engine, and all manner of other licenses in order to begin. But now, telephony cloud users are able to build and deploy their own voice biometric applications in a matter of minutes.

Two-factor authentication has never been easier. For example, an organization can combine voice biometrics with connect dialer software to confirm that Web application users are who they say they are. They can also integrate voice biometrics with internal systems to do things like LAN password reset, employee expense requests, or PTO balance, among many other things.

2. SMS for end-to-end multichannel support

With omnichannel support a top-level priority for today's enterprise customers, call-handling solutions must provide flexibility. This translates to multichannel support, including inbound and outbound voice calling as well as SMS.

Text messaging has become the preferred method of communication for many smartphone-savvy customers. Businesses need to make SMS an option to ensure they can meet the customer demand to engage on their own terms. Virtually any messaging or voice interaction today can be interchangeable, users can now switch seamlessly between the two modes. For example, a user can build an outbound SMS notification script that escalates to an automated voice transaction, or create voice calls that send confirmations via SMS receipt.

3. Voice chat using WebRTC

WebRTC enables browser-to-browser communication. Because it requires no plugins or framework, this approach provides the highest performance and lowest latency possible. And since users don't pay for the bandwidth, WebRTC also provides an incredibly cost-effective means of communication.

This is a great solution for businesses that want to connect with customers in real time using the power of voice. Alternative options may require end users to dial a number or download a plugin to connect. Consider a retail website that has an embedded WebRTC application; rather than having to leave the website experience to place a phone, a customer would simply tap the click-to-call widget to initiate a voice chat immediately.

4. Data analytics to improve performance

Let's face it, no matter how much a company invests in innovative technologies, it will never realize the full value without performance insights. Understanding what is and isn't working and learning how to improve quality of service is the ultimate ROI of cloud telephony applications. The real power, however, is not only knowing the hits and misses, but having the power to react to those events. Having the control to make immediate changes to a call flow is invaluable.

For instance, consider a call that comes into a call center and is transferred out, but gets disconnected. A deep analytics system not only can monitor for these types of "actions," but also can create an "event" to control an immediate response. In this case, the agent's phone can be accessed via API, thus preventing the call drop.