Mobile phones in last 10 years have seen major change of its usage. Gone are the days when mobile phone was a replacement of POTS ( Plain Old Telephone System) which could be kept in pocket and moved around in town. Now a days, specification of mobile phones mentions of 2.4GHz processor, 4GB RAM, Full HD Display, 128GB memory, Digital Dolby sound which look specifications of high end Laptop! And with battery to last for 12 hours with continuous usage. Mobile phones now act as a TV, Books, Computer with high speed internet connection, Music System, Alarm clock and yes, one can make and receive calls. No wonder, mobile phones are now called smart-phones! I would have preferred to call them “PhoneTop” (Mobile Phone + Laptop)!
So, Smart-phones are increasingly being used in call center solutions as well as many customer service solutions too. It is increasingly being used to lodge complaints by customers, check complaint status without making any voice calls, but just by visiting websites. IVR does the same thing using voice. Smartphones are now become very much affordable ( costing just $35 in India) along with internet data connection. But still, IVR holds advantages over smartphones for complaint management systems, customer service. And most of the time, smartphones or IVR should not treated as competitor, rather force multiplier.
Advantages where IVR holds over Smartphones are:-
1. Guaranteed delivery of message
SMS can be delivered but no indication if SMS was read by the person. In IVR, called party picks the call, hears the message. This can be verified with call pick up and call duration. Even when an email is sent or complaint form is submitted, it is not guaranteed that it has been read by concerned person, but in voice call or using IVR, it can be confirmed that message has been delivered, heard by the concerned person.
2. Use of mother tongue
Use of vernacular language for message delivery/information exchange is one advantage which will always remain with IVR Systems. Websites/SMS requires a person to be literate and are heavily biased towards English language.
3. Cost of information for users
Cost of availing services provided by IVR is very much affordable as Rs. 1000/- mobile phone or a any telephone connection is all that one person wants to make an IVR call and retrieve information. Using toll free number, one does not even need to spend any money for making an outbound call. The same is not true for website which requires costly smart phone, internet connectivity. Reading and writing an SMS again requires one to be literate and be able to read English most of the time.
4. IVR provides information fastest way and implementation is easy
Implementing IVR service is very easy now a days with mushrooming of cloud telephony service providers. Setting up a complete contact center in cloud may now take just a mouse click. For example CloudAgent of OzoneTel.
So, while smartphones and Apps may be the in thing, IVR might hold its fort few more years in customer service industry.