Best Interactive Voice Response (IVR): The 2019 CRM Service Leaders Awards

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THE MARKET

The interactive voice response (IVR) market is expected to reach $5.5 billion by 2023, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets. One reason for this growth, according to the report, is increasing integration of advanced technologies, including natural language processing (NLP), which the report notes has enabled IVR to generate natural language response and, in so doing, make conversational systems possible. The report goes on to say that IVRs equipped with NLP technology can reduce time spent by an individual in getting a particular query resolved, which, in turn, helps organizations achieve higher cost optimization.

The report asserts that IVR analytics have also played an important role, as they aid companies in improving the customer experience by capturing, tracking, and evaluating the entire call process. According to the report, IVR analytics can identify issues such as causes of common drop-off points and misunderstood menus and prompts, enabling organizations to enhance their IVR solutions accordingly.

THE LEADERS

Aspect Software posted a category-leading 4.3 in depth of functionality and had strong scores in the other three areas as well, with a 3.8 in both company direction and cost and a 3.9 in customer satisfaction. The company “is redefining self-service with its market-leading foray into conversational bots in not only the contact center but other self-service applications in various vertical markets,” says Paul Stockford, president and chief analyst at Saddletree Research. Aspect, he adds, has also been home to some “very innovative thinking.”

Cisco Systems earned four solid scores, with a 3.8 in company direction, a 3.7 in depth of functionality, and a 3.6 in both customer satisfaction and cost. According to Stockford, the company “continues to innovate in self-service and represents a solid choice for contact centers of all sizes.” Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research, offers a somewhat different perspective, saying that the company “is competitive when customers have a big Cisco footprint, but not really an innovator in this space.”

Last year’s winner, Genesys, fell a bit this time around. Last year, the company scored above 4.0 across the board. This time, it did not have a single score above that mark: it earned a 3.8 in cost and a 3.7 in the other three areas. Nevertheless, Wettemann maintains that the company’s “investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning and its ability to rapidly iterate with the cloud are keeping it ahead in this space.”

Verint Systems earned a category-leading 4.2 in customer satisfaction and turned in strong performances in the other three areas as well, with scores of 4.0 in both depth of functionality and company direction and a 3.8 in cost. “As part of an overall CX suite strategy, Verint self-service is a solid investment in a company that shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to self-service innovation,” Stockford says.

THE WINNER

NICE inContact claims the winner’s spot this year, largely by virtue of a category-leading 4.3 in cost. The company also posted scores of 4.0 in depth of functionality and customer satisfaction and a 3.8 in company direction. This showing is consistent with its performance last year, when it earned scores of 4.2 in company direction and cost, a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, and a 3.5 in depth of functionality. However, analysts expressed concern about the dip in company direction.

ONE TO WATCH

Nuance Communications is this year’s One to Watch. Although it earned a respectable 3.5 in depth of functionality, its other scores were lacking: It had scores of 3.3 in company direction and cost and a lowly 3.0 in customer satisfaction, suggesting that it currently has a “best-of-the-rest” status. Wettemann notes that the company is struggling to “deliver a modern cloud business model and value for customers.” 

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