Perfect the Contact Center Experience with Smart IVRs and Voice Biometrics

Perfect the Contact Center Experience with Smart IVRs and Voice Biometrics

February 1, 2022

By in Blog

Remember when customers didn't mind too much about waiting on a support line to reach an agent? Well, that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, customers are more impatient than ever and expect to be served straight away. Else they will look for another business. In fact, for roughly half of all customers, one bad support experience is enough to cause them to switch brands.

To make the experience of calling a support line a bit easier for their customers, many companies opt for using an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR). But do they always work as they are supposed to?

In theory, an IVR menu should give callers the help they ask for straight away and lead them to the right person. But in reality, some of them are more of an annoyance than a help. This is especially true if the menu has many options that callers have to listen to all of before being able to choose.

On the other hand, a Smart IVR - an upgraded form of the basic interactive voice response menu - can help you deliver a high-quality customer experience while improving agent efficiency. If such a menu also supports voice biometrics, then you could actually make your customers feel safer and happier with your contact center than ever before.

How does a Smart IVR differ from a regular one, though?

What Is an IVR?

A basic IVR is the well-known “For sales, press one” menu that uses touch tones from your phone to interpret the reason for calling. When it knows what the caller wants or who they want to reach, it moves them through one of the preset patches to the desired person or department.

If the phone menu is straightforward, callers usually don’t have any problems reaching the right person. How many times did it happen, though, that you had to listen to several menu options before realizing that none matched your needs? Or the phone menu was so unclear that you pressed “0” to speak with any available human agent rather than trying to decipher the menu options?

According to Clutch’s research on phone menus, listening to irrelevant options (69%) is what frustrates callers the most. After all, wasn’t the IVR menu supposed to help users save time, not waste more of it on trying to find a nonexistent choice. It’s no wonder then that for many customers, having to use a phone menu is almost immediately considered to contribute to a poor support experience.

Using intelligent IVR with inbuilt artificial intelligence (AI) and voice biometrics could help you solve those problems though.

What Is a Smart IVR?

Smart IVR is a new generation of traditional interactive voice response menus that can both route inbound calls faster and reduce the time your staff spends on various repetitive tasks and questions. The biggest difference? It replaces outdated tone dialing with voice commands. Thanks to their speech recognition capabilities, such systems can actually understand what you are saying and the context in which you say it so that they can respond accordingly.

In that way, you can simply “have a chat” with the virtual assistant rather than navigate a pre-set menu with several options. Let’s say that a caller wants to check their order delivery status. With a regular IVR menu, they would either have to listen to multiple options before finding one that matches or wait for an agent.

A smart IVR menu can make the process much smoother, as the caller just needs to say that they want to check the delivery status and the menu will give them the answer immediately. Also, if the Smart IVR system has voice biometrics features built-in, then callers don’t even have to input their customer number or password for verification. Instead, the virtual assistant can recognize them straight away just by listening to them speak and comparing the sound to a voiceprint stored in its database, thus saving a lot of the customer's time.

Benefits of Implementing Smart IVR

Using a Smart IVR tool is a great way to go beyond the simple “Technical support, press 1” kind of menu and offer a more personalized experience to everyone who calls your contact center. What are the benefits of working with a Smart IVR?

  • Reduced support costs: a poorly designed phone menu might actually increase customer support costs rather than reduce them as intended. 70% of people in the Clutch survey admitted that they had pressed the “0” button right away just to bypass the phone menu. Result? Your agents may have to spend their time on many simple questions or issues rather than focus on the complicated ones only. That, in turn, could make you think you need more agents to handle the daily workload. A smart IVR, on the other hand, can handle most simple calls on its own. Consequently, your staff will have more time to handle complex questions and problems even at peak hours without requiring additional help.
  • Self-service options: whenever they have an issue or question, 69% of consumers first try to find the answer themselves. How about helping them solve the matter themselves through a self-service option? That way you can make callers happier as they won't have to wait for a human agent to respond, and you can also save quite a bit of your agent’s time.
  • Exceptional support 24/7: virtual assistants don’t get tired or sleepy, so they can work around the clock without ever needing a break. If you are looking for a way to provide excellent customer service during weekends, holidays, or outside work hours, then a smart IVR menu can do exactly that.
  • Plenty of data about your contact center and your customers: smart IVR platforms come with a full set of analytics tools through which you can quickly find out what is happening in your contact center. From the day-to-day performance of your call center to any potential issues that may impact the customer experiences, everything can be displayed right on your dashboard. Because virtual assistants are also easier to use than regular menus and don’t annoy customers as much, you can also learn quite a bit about them from how they use the menu and what questions they ask.
  • Personalized service: 72% of consumers only engage with marketing messages customized to their specific interests. With intelligent IVR, offering tailored communication to every caller can be easier than ever before. How? The platform automatically gathers and keeps records of all customer interactions with your call center in its database. That way it can quickly identify each caller, give them personalized suggestions, or even route them to an agent they have spoken to before.

What Are the Benefits of Using Smart IVR and Passive Voice Biometrics Combined?

The security of customers’ data is a top priority for every business, and contact centers in particular. But how can they improve the safety of personal data without making users go through long or complicated verification processes? Voice biometrics could be the answer here.

Thanks to the growing popularity of voice recognition and biometrics as a business authentication method, the voice biometrics market is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2020 to $3.9 billion in 2026.

Here are some reasons why so many companies are turning to voice authentication and some benefits that they can reap from this technology.

Higher Security Without Additional Passwords

As each person has unique physical characteristics when it comes to their voice, companies can verify the identity of a caller by analyzing their voice and then comparing it with a voiceprint stored inside their system.

This way, you can add an extra layer of security to your call center without asking the customer multiple verification questions or for a password. In certain situations, voice verification will be more than enough security on its own, for example, when a customer wants just to check the status of their order. For more complicated cases though (like billing issues), you could combine voice verification with one authentication question to be extra sure that you are speaking to the right person.  By doing this, you increase your security and make contacting your call center easier for your customers, so what's not to like?

Better Personalization

80% of customers are more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences, and passive voice biometrics can definitely help with that. By analyzing each caller’s voice, contact center agents can quickly identify the speaker’s identity and then access all the data they need to personalize the conversation.

But if you don't know the person who is calling, you can learn a great deal about them just by listening to their voice.  For example, if the speaker is an older person, you might need to be more patient when speaking with them to make sure they understand what you are saying. If you know ahead of time that an older person is calling, for example, you can immediately adjust the way you speak to their needs in order to make solving their problem much easier.

Smart IVR can boost the customer experience in one more way. How? By creating a unique profile for each user and then matching suggestions or recommendations to them. Based on the data the system has in the customer’s profile, it can proactively remind them to make a payment because their rent due date is coming up, for instance, or it could show them a special offer for a license subscription that is about to expire.

Reduced Workload for Your Agents

Now here's something that should get you and your team interested. By using smart IVR, you can reduce your agents’ workload (and stress) by having the system answer simple questions and solve basic issues. For example, is it necessary for a caller to wait in line to speak to a human agent if they just want to check their bank balance or ask about office hours? Such requests can frustrate the caller who has to wait on hold and the agent who will have more work, especially during peak times.

A virtual assistant can answer most of those simple questions itself in a matter of seconds. But what if it can’t answer a question or understand what the customer wants to do? Then the caller will be automatically transferred to the right live agent who can help with the case and already has all of the customer’s information at hand, including their identity based on the passive voice biometric identification used while they were talking with the IVR.


Interactive voice response systems were developed to help customers get the help they want more quickly. But sometimes a basic menu does more harm than good, possibly even causing customers to dread having to call for support.

A smart IVR menu can make all the difference here, by allowing customers to speak rather than type numbers and find the information they need by themselves. Even better is that, with passive speaker identification, you can also make the first contact much faster and more secure for your callers.

They won’t have to remember a password or their customer number and then type it into their phone. Instead, a few words and the IVR will automatically confirm their identity. Result? More satisfied customers who don’t ask for help from human agents as often. Won't that make your employees happier as well?

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