infoTECH Feature

October 11, 2011

Sophisticated Artificial Intelligence Makes a Better IVR

Most people would not rank automated voice response (IVR) systems as something they enjoy encountering. But, if done right with sophisticated technology, IVR can be a useful tool that helps companies save money and customers save time.

That’s the goal of IVR technology provider Smart Action.

“We use artificial intelligence to improve the quality of the conversation, improve automation rates, and improve the user experience,” explained Peter Voss, Smart Action CEO, during a TMCnet video interview. “We have had quite a few cases where the quality rating of our system is higher than a live agent.”

For example, customers who call a large stationery company can use the IVR system to process returns in three minutes, compared with six minutes if speaking with a live agent.

It works out for companies, too; replacing existing IVR systems with Smart Action’s offering can increase call completion rates manifold, such as the case of a large pest control company where call completion rate went from four percent to 40 percent. 

The secret behind Smart Action’s success? A sophisticated, English-language artificial intelligence (AI) engine, perfected over many years, which offers fundamentally different capabilities than found with other IVR systems.

“In conventional IVR, the flow is completely mapped out; every step has to be pre-designed and the vocabulary has to be totally pre-defined,” Voss explained during the video interview.

By contrast, Smart Action’s AI engine is able to monitor and manage conversations as they unfold. Users can speak with natural language, and the system is able to handle relatively complex interaction — such as scheduling appointments or clarifying spoken phone numbers — with ease. 

“The system has short-term memory and can remember what was said earlier in the conversation,” Voss noted. “It will disambiguate things it doesn’t understand.”

For companies considering an IVR upgrade, Smart Action’s system offers a solid ROI proposition, but that’s not the only benefit; increased customer satisfaction is also a solid benefit.

Voss said the system is cost-effective for call centers with as few as 30 people.

Watch the full video interview for more discussion about artificial intelligence and IVR.


Mae Kowalke is a TMCnet contributor. She is Manager of Stories at Neundorfer, Inc., a cleantech company in Northeast Ohio. She has more than 10 years experience in journalism, marketing and communications, and has a passion for new tech gadgets. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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