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Maximizing IVR Value

How to increase task completion rates: A formula for performance

Many factors contribute to successful task completions. When seeking performance improvements in the IVR, companies can make changes in several areas that contribute to success: voice user interface (VUI) design, speech grammars, audio quality, speech recognition technology, network quality, personalization, and integration with other channels. However, extra investments in the wrong area may not yield the desired performance impact. How can a company know what to change?

A car, like an IVR, is made up of many parts. Each part plays a role in the car’s performance, but optimal performance is achieved when an expert understands how each part interacts with the others and can select the best mixture of quality parts to achieve the greatest performance for the lowest cost. The result is not just the sum of many parts, but is a carefully optimized formula for the highest performance.

Vendors that specialize in tires would like you to believe that tires matter most to a car’s performance; vendors that specialize in motor oil would like you to believe the same about oil. The same holds true in IVR platforms; individual component vendors that specialize in speech recognition engines will try to confuse recognition performance directly with overall IVR performance, and vendors that have bought large amounts of capacity will talk to you primarily about scalability.

Consider the complete formula You wouldn't select a car just based on its transmission; don't pick an IVR just based on its underlying recognition engine

Rather than be swayed by the individual technical metrics of each component, it is best to frame every IVR upgrade decision in these terms: How will this affect my task completion performance? The more evidence an investment can demonstrate for improving task completion, the more certain you can be about that investment’s ROI.

3. Choose IVR investments based on performance

The task completion metric can dramatically simplify your IVR investment decision process. By focusing on performance, IVR system comparison boils down to proven performance history.

Performance-based IVR selection criteria

Consider features in the IVR system at two stages of IVR maturity: initial design (or re-design), and ongoing optimization:

  • 1.

    Do features on the IVR system enable the application designer to vastly improve the application design? Examples of design-enabling features are personalization frameworks, natural language support, experience management portals, and audio synthesis technology.

  • 2.

    After the initial redesign, does the IVR system provide continual refinement to improve year-over-year performance? A key

PAGE 6 | APRIL 2009

© 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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