IVR To AI: What CX Could Look Like In The Future

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

Frankly, IVR or Interactive Voice Response has become inefficient, mostly due to a changing of the technological tides. “If a caller has a bad IVR experience, more than 80% won’t ever use that company again,” writes Conversational Receptionists. 

As customer’s standards evolve alongside technology, so does their impatience and lack of interest in waiting in call queues. Since companies are unable to sufficiently engage their callers while they wait, alternative technologies like cloud contact centre solutions are quickly replacing them. While IVR has been in the social consciousness since the seventies, can it provide what the modern customer now requires?

The answer here may entail a handover from legacy tech like IVRs to more adaptive AI and cloud systems, where there’s more potential for personalised experiences.

“Companies are finding that systems meant to last decades can’t sufficiently handle the pressures of a next-gen, digital business ecosystem. AI has opened the door to vast new CX capabilities, yet most companies struggle to realize the technology’s full potential because of a dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchical architecture,” says Avaya.

CX before Siri

Computer telephony integration hasn’t been in existence that long as it was only in the eighties that IVR hardware became affordable for most companies. In the early 1990s, CTI quickly replaced DTMF signaling. By the 2000s, it was common to expect a robotic direct, open-end or mixed response prompt at the other end of a customer service call.

Historically, one of the most prolific users of IVR has been banks, as they rely on the system for customer engagement within a 24/7 cycle. However, the wait on the phone while being blasted with music has become the bane of many banking customer’s experiences. This has led to banks enacting a move into bot-based interaction.

“For customers, chatbots are a faster, more hassle-free way to accomplish necessary banking tasks like getting account updates. For banks, chatbots reduce the number and length of customer service calls, leading to reduced customer care costs,” writes Keith Armstrong from Abe AI.


The future of CX

These days a successful customer experience is inextricably linked to increasing revenue for brands in the race for customer loyalty.

As IVRs lose their competitive edge, largely driven by their contribution to higher abandonment (more than 40%), alternatives have risen.

In a world where we speak to virtual assistants named Alex and Siri, customers and now brands expect the same level of dynamic tech elsewhere.

So what does the future look like for CX? Firstly, IVR is probably not going to make it. While it served its purpose and segmented the masses, it is unable to deliver the kind of personal touch that cloud platforms, with a bit of help from AI, can produce. These days customer data is as good as gold and brands need concise analytics to reach that quarterly goal. Features like multi-database analytics, trigger messaging and predictive routing all fall under the umbrella of cloud communication, but are far beyond the capabilities of the IVR.


As the artificial integrates into every moment of our lives, keeping up with the pack is necessary for brands to grow exponentially — no-one likes being the last one in the queue.

Via: Conversational Receptionists, Abe AI, Avaya, Forrester. 

How To Ensure A Smooth Brand to Dealer Experience

brand to dealer

Possibly one of the best times to buy a car is during the festive season, due partly to discount-happy dealers aiming to make their end-of-quarter sales. However, the journey from beginning to end can be tenuous for brands.
By the time a consumer has clicked on the test drive button, the connection between brand and caller is broken, after that, the dealer takes over the process. With such a large pool of engaged clientele congregating online, the ability to follow a lead into an acquisition is arguably facilitated by the digital communication channel.

A Little Background

The automotive model has remained steady for the last century, the entire research and buying process standardly occurred at brick and mortar dealerships, but with the advent of digital marketplaces like eBay,, Car Giant, and AutoTrader the market has expanded significantly. According to AutoTrader, “car buyers now spend 59 per cent of their time online,” researching a future purchase.
Other stats illustrate that 23 per cent of these customers are enduring a full customer journey online up until buying the car at a dealer.

The problem is that the dealership interaction can sometimes negate the relationship created between brand and caller up to that point since 88% of consumers refuse to buy a car without a test drive, multi-location businesses need to consider ways to bridge this gap. Additionally, there is a feeling of disconnect felt by consumers once they’ve left the cushy, streamlined world of online branding.

“My experience was that the dealer was remarkably unaware of the steps I had already taken to get this far. When I arrived at the dealership, the car I had requested was available to be driven, but the dealer didn’t know if I had configured the car, what my criteria were in buying a car, or why I had chosen the make, model, and options that I had,” writes Adobe Digital Experience blogger Axel G. Heyenga.

Despite the fact that dealerships operate as independent entities, consumers remain connected with the brand’s website during their time on the ground.

A Car Buyer Journey study commissioned by Autotrader and conducted by IHS Automotive found that the top five uses of a mobile at a dealership include, “comparing prices for vehicles at other dealerships (59 per cent); finding prices for vehicles at the dealership where the consumer was (41 percent); comparing inventory at other dealerships (38 percent); check inventory at the dealership where the consumer was (36 per cent); and research trade-in pricing (33 percent).”

The evidence more than suggests that the buyer is less comfortable breaking ties with their online data pool, they are also arriving at a dealer sometimes more educated than their salesman.

A Smooth Continuation

Many auto brands and marketplaces have found novel ways to connect the dots; Audi City is one example of an attempt at digitising the showroom culture, BMW also seeks to make their on-the-ground experience less informative and more transitional. Still, the ability to follow a lead may require a more structured and transparent set up that lays the brickwork for brands to monitor the entire car buyer’s journey from research to purchase.

As technology continues its rocket towards a fully automated existence, eventually brands won’t have to worry about such a separation — test drives may even be conducted from the comfort of a living room, and all coveted customer data will be collected under one digital roof.
Until then,“ the overarching lesson here is the need to view the automotive customer journey as a whole,” states Oliver.

Via: Oliver, AutoTrader

A Few Ways Finnish Technology Changed Communication 

Yesterday marked a century since Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917. With that in mind, we at Swedish-born Freespee thought we’d mark the occasion by highlighting the astounding contributions that Sweden’s neighbour has made to communication as a whole.
Safe to say that, without countries like Finland, global digital conversation platforms would cease to exist.
The GSM Journey 
Connecting to another country from a smartphone seems like an effortless task these days, but it wasn’t always that way, and we have the Finns to thank. They played a significant part in the creation of an autonomous system for connecting across the planet.

The world’s first GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) phone call was made from Finland in December of 1991. It was initiated by former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri, who called Kaarina Suonio, the Mayor of Tampere at the time. They used a network built by (Finnish) Telenokia and Siemens.
It all occurred after the country won a race prompted by the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) to deploy a standard cellular telephone system across Europe. Fifteen operators from 13 European countries participated and Finnish operator OY Radiolinja AB came out on top.
The success was arguably a milestone in a long journey, starting from the inception of GSM’s predecessor — NMT (Nordic automatic Mobile Telephone system). NMT created the first mobile network on earth and was established in 1971 from an impromptu meeting at the Danish PTT (Postal, Telegraph, and Telephone service) between Tony Hagström, the once Director-General of Televerket in Sweden, and Pekka Tarjanne, former Director-General of the Finnish PTT.
NMT’s development was fraught with setbacks and triumphs, including the loss of their founding chairman Håkan Bokstam. Sadly, Bokstam died in a car accident before he could see the fruits of his labour. It was Bokstam who established the “14 commandments” that formed the framework which still informs the global mobile network used today.
It’s fair to state that the principles for global mobile communication were created by a group of Nordic engineers and innovators who were led by the common goal of making information technology available to everyone.
“I see this principle in the same way I perceive another theme which is very close to my heart: the right to communicate, a right those of us living in richer countries of the world often take for granted,” said Tarjanne. 
SSH (Secure Shell)
Finland created another tool for digital relay which is one many laymen may not have heard of, but it is widely used by experts in more technical fields.
Secure Shell, or cryptographic network protocol, was developed by Finnish software engineer Tatu Ylönen in 1995 as a response to the security concerns brought about by clear text (unencryptable readable data). The format was used in the early days of the commercial internet – when it was seen as merely a research network.

Today SSH is utilised as a secure way to remotely use and securely administer computers. It is also used on every Linux server worldwide (another Finnish technological contribution).
These are just two of the many offerings Finland has made to the communication realm. We can expect more in the years to come — according to the Finnish Invention Foundation, the Finnish people produce 15,000 inventions per year.
Via: Telia Company History, ITU News, Miradore.