Putting the "I" back in the IVR

Brooks Bell wrote a great piece about big data in Forbes recently, and in it she challenges companies to use big data “to make practical predictions and forward-looking decisions”.  Amen Ms. Bell, Amen; and as this photo indicates, you have plenty of company.  The general sentiment is that big data without practical application is just a full employment policy for high-priced data analysts and “quant geeks”. 

But take heart, from our experience companies are rising to the challenge.  They are beginning to practically apply big data – not just to gain insight, but to take action.  The most common business driver is customer experience improvement, and let me give you one simple example: 

Most customers hate IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Systems).  They hate the long, byzantine menus, and they hate waiting though the handful of options and impersonal promotional scripting to get to what they need.  As a result, they often just “0 out” to a live representative as soon as possible.  The result is a “lose/lose” proposition.  The customer gets a poor experience, and the company providing the IVR doesn’t save much money since the IVR only postpones – but doesn’t prevent – an expensive live interaction.

A company we work with realized that big data could help improve the IVR experience.  They are implementing an IVR system that predicts customer needs using big data, then personalizes the interaction based on the customer and the likely reason for the call.  The result: a “win/win”.  No more waiting through irrelevant offers and options for the customer, and less cost for the company, since customers are less likely to need a live representative. 

If “necessity is the mother of invention”, then intense competition to win and retain customers is making big data a necessity, and the scenario above is only a single example of an encouraging trend.  From marketing to sales, from service to collections, companies are finding many places within the customer journey where big data generates a better experience for customers, and more profitability for companies.  You can read more about it here.