Update Your IVR Like You Update Your Website

Your IVR can make the difference between a happy customer and an angry one. Here’s how to create an IVR that keeps up with their changing needs.

Learn More

Update Your IVR Like You Update Your Website

In a classic scene from Seinfeld, Kramer pretends to be an interactive voice response (IVR) system for movie showtimes that’s not far off from most IVR experiences today. George’s reactions on the other end hit close to home for anyone who’s had a frustrating call center experience (i.e., everyone):

But Seinfeld was set in the 90s—your IVR shouldn’t be.

According to J.D. Power, IVR interactions account for 30 percent of the entire customer experience on average. People remember IVR experiences. And despite an increased focus on improving customer experience across industries, the negative sentiment about IVRs hasn’t changed much over the years.

Tweet: "the person who invented IVR should be charged with crimes against humanity"

Today, customers call your business because they want to accomplish something they couldn’t do using your website or app. They come to the phone expecting to achieve one of two outcomes:

  • Talk to someone who can help them right away
  • Take a specific action using your IVR (e.g., activate a new credit card)

So when they encounter friction, they’re even more frustrated. They’ve likely spent a long time trying something online and failed, only to find themselves waiting on hold, or worse, trapped in a never-ending IVR menu.

It’s no fun if you’re on the business end of IVR either. No company sets out to create a bad IVR experience—they’re doing the best they can given the complexity and constraints of their legacy systems. And while customer expectations have evolved, changing an IVR on these systems today is not much easier than it was a decade ago.

But with APIs, it doesn’t have to be this complicated.

Out with the Old…

Most companies redesign their websites every 6 months to 2 years, according to Hubspot. That’s an entire redesign, above and beyond all the copy updates and new webpages added even more frequently.

Similarly, the most popular mobile apps get updated every 30 days or so, according to mobile intelligence platform Sensor Tower.

So why don’t we treat IVRs the same way? For starters, it often takes months of meetings, consultants, RFPs, and negotiations just to get going.

The legacy IVR ecosystem is made up of complex systems that require highly specialized vendors to move even the smallest changes forward. So most companies resign themselves to maintaining stale IVR call flows well past their expiration date, subjecting customers to inefficient and frustrating experiences. Give this IVR product manual a read, and you’ll see why.

IVR Manual

...In with the New: Staying Relevant with APIs

With APIs, hardware no longer has to be a constraint, and the systems are no longer as complex. You don’t have to settle for a rigid, complicated IVR that falls short of customer expectations. Even if you’ve deeply invested in existing systems, you can use APIs to build a better, more flexible IVR experience on top of what you already have.

Using the web languages they already know, your development team can create custom phone trees to deliver a personalized experience for callers. This experience will intelligently route your callers to the right agent based on the data you have about them.

That sounds like a far-off fantasy compared to Kramer and the average IVR experience today, but APIs make this a concrete reality.

So how do you build an IVR that you can change like you change your website?

  1. Experimentation: APIs can make IVRs more flexible and easier to modify. With APIs, your team can rapidly prototype an IVR. And you can continue experimenting with that IVR to create the right customer experience—just like you would iterate on and optimize a webpage.
  2. Integration: An API can synchronize information seamlessly between different systems, like your CRM and other sources of customer data—just as your website is deeply integrated with other systems. Your customer will walk away feeling like the service was created just for them.

Get Started

With APIs, your teams can use their preferred web languages to quickly build a reliable and intelligent IVR. Leading supply chain software provider, Schwarz Supply Source, built a prototype on Twilio within eight hours. HR consultancy, DDI, had a prototype running within hours, and a production-quality solution ready within a month.

These companies have taken advantage of a clear, proven opportunity to bring their IVRs out of the 90s and create far better experiences for their customers. What are you waiting for?

Want to learn how to build and implement a better, smarter, IVR in just hours? Check out Part 2 on integration and Part 3 on experimentation.