Here is a high-level view of the four types of Visual IVR characters that you will run into if you research the subject:
The “Tell me what you want and I’ll push the dial tones for you” Visual IVR
While not very innovative, this Visual IVR does speed the process of getting the caller to an agent. The downside is that it requires the Visual IVR provider to map out the entire IVR of a given company (without really having a relationship with that company). The results are that very few companies ever get mapped, if the IVR changes the whole concept fails, and like the next character… an app is required.
The “I’m really just an app that will call for help if I can’t help you” Visual IVR
Whether it is a self-service app that places a call when needed or an app that transfers data to the contact center agent – this Visual IVR requires an app and getting customers to download yet another app just for customer service is difficult if not impossible task.
The “I’ll show you all of the IVR options and transfer you just like an old IVR” Visual IVR
Somewhat of a combination of the first two flavors of Visual IVR, this version may not require an app (good!) and may also transfer the selections to an agent’s desktop (awesome!). The shortfall? The user is still choosing only from the options given and not fully able to submit complicated responses and characters like email addresses, user names, and free text.
The “I’ll communicate in real-time with the company’s backend systems (where your account data is) to help you self-solve your problem, and if I can’t, I’ll give all of your input to the agent so you don’t have to wait or repeat yourself” Visual IVR
Boy, that’s a long one! But for a reason. This type of Visual IVR requires more than just new Visual IVR technology to work. It requires the Visual IVR company to have the technology to integrate with a contact center’s information systems so that real interactions take place rather than a simple triage process. This (no-app required) type of Visual IVR is more prepared for the omnichannel customer because it has access to the customer’s previous actions on other channels – yes, prior to this interaction; even to the extent of being able to suggest when it is time to talk to an agent! (I can see the wheels turning inside the Marketing department’s head over this concept). Back-end integration is a key differentiator in this version of Visual-IVR, and so far only one company has patents on that technology.