Jul 08 2016 Interactive Text Response (ITR)



Leverage Customer Migration to Mobile

The contact center industry contains about a quarter of a million acronyms. If you have been working in the space, you are likely tired of reading, talking, and hearing about IVR, ACD, WFM, CTI, and endless other three letter acronyms. That said we have a new three letter technology gaining momentum ITR. ITR stands for Interactive Text Response and in a broad sense can be understood by two simple questions regarding your customer service:

1. Can your customers’ text your contact center agents?
2. Do you provide SMS based self-service?

I would recommend that during your next strategic meeting, you pose the provocative question to your team “Can our customers text the contact center?” If the answer is no, it is time to consider this channel and incorporate texting into your overall technology roadmap. I could support the need to adopt SMS text utilizing industry research but I will utilize a different use case  my now retired baby boom generation parents. Both represent the stereotypical non-technical demographic, but in the year 2015, they have Facebook accounts and joined the younger generations in communicating via text messaging. Enough said on the adoption of the channel by our end customers!

Top 5 Strategic Considerations For Texting

The majority of contact centers today provide multi-channel service to their customer base – Phone, Email, and Chat being the most common today. As we start to embrace SMS text as an additional channel, we need to address the following items from a strategic perspective:

  1. Establish a policy to obtain customer consent, or permission, to receive texts
  2. A system to track, store opt-in and opt-out customer responses
  3. Strategy for agent response time, as customers view SMS closer to the phone channel versus email in terms of expected response time
  4. Consider industry standards set by HIPAA (Healthcare) and FCRA (credit/debit card transactions) when dealing with sensitive information
  5. Collaboration between Marketing and Customer Service on the use of the channel for notifications

The second provocative statement to pose to your team “Do we provide SMS based self-service?” An emerging trend in customer self-service involves expanding the traditional phone based self-service, or IVR, to the text channel. Companies need to leverage the investment made in the IVR channel and utilize the same core functions and underlying technology to allow customers to self-service via texting. From a strategic perspective, a few items to consider:

  1. Minimize ongoing technology costs by using the same core technology that supports the phone IVR
  2. Consistent options across all channels, the menu commands on the IVR should be available within the automated text channel
  3. Alternatives to authentication, including voice biometrics
  4. Reporting & Analytics, establishing key metrics such as containment rate, 1st contact resolution