Possibly a next step in interactive voice response, or IVR, is the integration of visual aids during calls—or graphic user interfaces for smartphones. The question is whether IVR needs a visual element.
At its heart, IVR is a communications avenue for callers to get information out of organizations’ databases—in most cases, that’s bank account information or what have you—via telephone.
When we at Plum talk about IVR, one of the things we talk about is how IVR frees users up to access the internet without distraction. It’s a hands-free conduit, which is important in many scenarios (driving a vehicle, walking, et cetera).
One of the other things we talk about is simplicity. Calling into an IVR system can be much simpler than talking with a customer service representative or navigating an organization’s website on a computer.
However, most smartphone users these days are accessing information online on their phones. Which is why we’ve got such big screens on the smartphones that have come out in the last year or so—people are surfing the web using the graphic user interface on their phones.
I’m not saying visual aids in IVR won’t blow up or that Plum won’t be doing it. I have no idea. If there’s a demand, all IVR vendors will incorporate them. It’s just a question of whether it improves IVR service or complicates it unnecessarily.
If it’s any indication, Microsoft researchers received a patent in 1998 for a System and Method for Graphically Displaying and Navigating Through an Interactive Voice Response Menu. But it still hasn’t really caught on.
I don’t know. We’ll see.