Tuning your IVR for Optimal Performance
What do your computer and car have in common with your interactive voice response (IVR)? They can be tuned for optimal performance. Speech recognition’s bad reputation is largely due to bad tuning.
Over the weekend my brother-in-law gave me his old desktop. I knew nothing about it. I’ve built my own computers before, so the first thing I did was take it apart. Knowing what’s on the inside, I can update the operating system, download a BIOS for the motherboard, install firmware for the RAID cards, and update the drivers, tuning it to squeeze out as much performance as possible. I do the same thing to my car – tuning is all about getting the best performance out of the product that you’ve purchased.
This is essentially how SmartAction treats our voice self-service platform, or what we call Intelligent Voice Automation (IVA) applications. Our clients receive an intelligent voice platform tuned to suit their business needs. We don’t even like to call it an IVR since it is so much more than that.
If you call a toll free number right now, a touch-tone system will answer and say something like, “Press 1 for accounts, Press 2 for billing, Press 3 for hours ” and on it goes. When developing a traditional IVR like this one, most of the time is spent focusing on menu structure, rather than speech recognition and tuning. The end result is a long list of options, and limited flexibility for the customer. With our applications, menu structure doesn’t matter as much, because IVA’s artificial intelligence capabilities and advanced speech recognition capabilities understand far more than a set number of responses.
How do we tune our clients’ Voice Self-Service systems?
First, we work closely with the clients to figure out what they need IVA to do. Second, we take IVA and customize it with a custom word database and artificial intelligence-influenced conversation flows. Then, development and tuning begin.
Tuning is what ensures the computer correctly pronounces a company’s name and the words it uses in conversation with customers. We tweak the volume, rate, pitch, pauses, and emphasis of words and phrases to make IVA sound as natural as possible. This is just one difference between IVA, which has a more natural flow, and an IVR that sounds like you’re talking to a robot. After talking with our system for a while, you almost start to forget you’re talking to a computer.
Traditional IVRs are often only tuned once every few months, or even once a year. Some companies wait until there are enough complaints about glitches that they tune it up again. But by then, you’ve been frustrating customers for months. IVA is more organic, we tune it on a weekly basis to continuously improve our clients’ applications and their customers’ experience.
You change your oil every 5,000 miles, so why don’t you know when your IVR was tuned last?
Like your car or your computer, your IVR is only as good as its last tune-up.
About the Author: Francis Matute
Francis Matute has been a System Administrator at SmartAction since 2012. He is a car and comic book enthusiast. With more than 15 years of experience in IT, Francis holds a B.S. in Computer Science from CSU Long Beach.