According to Visualcapitalist.com, in early 2020 the world's top five most valuable brands were in the technology sector and they included Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung. Globally, technology as an economic sector - according to the same publication - is the world’s most valuable industry, followed by financial services. This dramatic shift in value creation in the past couple of decades towards technology away from resources and financial services, is also evident in our daily lives, says Andre Schoeman an executive at JSE listed group Jasco. New high-tech devices that make our lives easier such as laptops, smartphones, and smartwatches, among others, supported by a plethora of applications (apps) have revolutionised how we live and interact as well as how organisations relate to their customers, says Schoeman. “However not everyone, for reasons varying from wherewithal to the rate of adoption of new technologies, is eager to take up and participate in this brave new world,” says Schoeman. He says the latest research indicates that only 40 percent of South Africans make use of smartphones, while the rest are still on phones running basic functionalities. “Companies that offer products and services to a mass market need to take this into account when they design their customer engagement platforms, including their interactive voice response (IVR) platforms,” says Schoeman. Interactive Voice Responses are essentially automated voice-activated interactions with an organisation through a telephone. Schoeman says being aware of the fact that your customer base does not adopt new technologies at the same pace does not mean you should shy away from progressive, more effective, and efficient engagement platforms. “However, we must not forget that voice remains a great equaliser because everyone will be able to access and engage through this type of technology in IVR environments,” says Schoeman.
Some technologies can be embedded in existing IVR platforms which incorporate Artificial Intelligence elements to recognise and upload each customer profile to ensure that the interaction is tailor-made to the needs of the customer. “The days when an IVR would ask a customer who does not own a vehicle if they would like a car insurance quote should be long behind us,” says Schoeman. He insists that there is no excuse for poor customer experience in IVR environments given the technology available in the market today. Ends//