As IVR systems have evolved, they’ve improved vastly. They’ve become more human (voice technology has enabled less robotic speech), they’ve become more efficient (they actually understand what we’re saying now) and they’ve become more capable (they can handle a good portion of the calls that used to go to call agents).
However, some people would rather talk to a human than a machine. Because of this, businesses have historically been left with the choice of saving money with an IVR system while annoying some customers or continuing to pay call agents.
A study by researchers from the University of Rochester and University of Illinois says otherwise. The study, Robust Design and Control of Call Centers with Flexible IVR Systems, posits that businesses don’t have to choose between cost savings and service quality anymore—they can design flexible IVR systems that satisfy all customers.
In fact, the study proposes that businesses can design IVR systems that can adapt to customers’ different needs and preferences. Or, rather, they can design systems that have multiple routing options, depending on the customer.
Therefore, the main premise of this paper is that it is possible to design ?exible IVR systems whose service modes can be dynamically adjusted for each customer.
One way IVRs can adapt is to ask the customers about their issues and assign them to a routing program depending on whether the IVR system can serve them without a call agent. Another way is to have IVRs adapt to call volumes, shortening messages when needed to handle more calls.
We propose robust dynamic routing policies to route customers to di?erent IVR service modes.
When implemented in the way suggested…we show with numerical experiments that using a ?exible IVR system can decrease the total call center costs up to 10% compared to a system with a single IVR service type.