Dec 05, 2023

Flexibility: Voice AI’s Edge Over IVR and Call Centers

For decades, businesses relied on rigid and limited phone answering systems like interactive voice response (IVR) or call centers to handle customer calls. These legacy systems use pre-recorded menus and scripts to route calls, which often frustrate customers with confusing options and inflexible paths. And they are often difficult, complex, and time consuming to update.

However, voice AI is transforming phone answering into a more personalized experience. AI phone answering solutions allow businesses to customize their systems to align with the fast-changing needs of businesses.

Tailoring AI to your business needs

While legacy phone menus typically limit you to the canned options programmed by the vendor, AI phone answering utilizes natural language processing so it can understand open-ended customer questions and requests. This allows for a more natural, conversational experience.

You can train AI voice assistants to be familiar with your company’s products, services, and common questions. For example, a restaurant can teach the AI terminology about menu items, reservations, catering, and other relevant topics. Now when customers call with questions about takeout or booking a party, the AI understands the context instead of relying on rigid menu prompts.

How voice AI provides flexibility

Easy, intuitive, and intelligent conversations between humans and voice assistants are made possible with various techniques such as SoundHound’s unique patented approach to Natural Language Understanding (NLU). 

SoundHound NLU, for example, understands context and responds accurately when callers speak because it’s able to discern between words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. This approach allows users to ask multiple questions that contain a complex set of variables, exclusions, and information that must be gathered across domains.

AI voice assistant responding to a caller's question.

Traditional IVR systems also restrict how calls get routed. You may be forced into hierarchies of menus, keeping customers on hold, before they eventually get to the right department. In contrast, AI phone systems can flexibly route calls using an easily-customizable knowledge base.

How to make fast updates

What if you’re a small to medium-sized business and you want to change your hours for a holiday week, or provide updated information about parking. Or  you’re a restaurant and you want to list new specials for the week.

With an AI-powered voice assistant like SoundHound’s Smart Answering, it’s simple and fast to make changes.

As you can see, AI phone answering solutions are flexible. Even when entering in information for your voice assistant, don’t worry about or labor over style or punctuation. Smart Answering is flexible enough to understand your intent and structures the voice response accordingly.

Rapid staff changes? Simple to adjust

Just as you saw in the video above, you can quickly modify your AI knowledge base to route calls to specific people and departments by entering the mobile phone number of the department head in billing or tech support, for example.

When a caller asks to speak with one of those departments, he or she doesn’t have to navigate a complex menu tree or wait for a virtual receptionist to answer. The voice assistant transfers the customer to the person immediately —  skipping frustrating menus and shortening call handling time. 

At SoundHound we’ve seen that a voice assistant can reduce call duration by over 4 minutes compared to traditional IVR.

The future of customer service 

In summary, today’s AI phone answering solutions provide game-changing flexibility compared to legacy systems. You can tailor the technology to fit your specific business needs rather than settling for a generic approach. With customizable self-service, intelligent call routing, and on-brand experiences, AI phone answering gives your customers the personalized and satisfying interactions they expect.

Ready for a custom demo of your own AI voice assistant?

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