Best Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: The 2018 CRM Service Leaders

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Though the interactive voice response (IVR) systems market is quite mature, it is still on a growth trajectory, largely because of the renewed importance that automation is playing in shaping customer brand experiences and because of the growing number of calls to businesses on mobile devices. Valued by Research and Markets at $3.7 billion in 2017, the category is projected to reach $5.5 billion by 2023, growing at a compounded annual rate of 6.8 percent. Going forward, that growth will be fueled by continued investments in existing equipment and continued migration of IVR technology to the cloud.


Aspect Software had strong scores across the board—4.2 in depth of functionality, 4.1 in customer satisfaction, 3.9 in cost, and 3.8 in company direction—further proving its status as a perennial favorite among analysts. It provides “a solid solution from a solid company in perpetual forward motion,” says Paul Stockford, president and chief analyst at Saddletree Research. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research, offers a different perspective, though, saying the company “has been slow to move to the cloud and offer customers a full solution for multiple contact channels.”

With scores of 4.1 in depth of functionality, 3.7 in company direction and customer satisfaction, and 3.5 in cost, Cisco Systems continues to impress. Analysts expect its acquisition of artificial intelligence company MindMeld in mid-2017 to bring an increased focus on self-service and possibly to fuel improvements to its Customer Voice Portal. Stockford says that it offers a “competent solution backed by a visionary company” and is “always a solid choice.”

NICE has not traditionally played in the IVR space before, but following its late 2016 acquisition of inContact, it not only joins the sector but assumes a leadership role. NICE inContact collected scores of 4.2 in company direction and cost, 3.8 in customer satisfaction, and 3.5 in depth of functionality. “Today’s customers are typically happy with the IVR offerings from NICE inContact,” says Sheila McGee-Smith, founder and president of McGee-Smtih Analytics, who also expects it to expand its capabilities as it “heads into even larger enterprise accounts.” Stockford has a similar take, saying that NICE inContact “is on the move in the right direction.”

Verint Systems, last year’s winner, had another strong performance this time around, earning scores of 4.3 in depth of functionality, 4.5 in company direction, 3.9 in customer satisfaction, and 3.8 in cost. John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research at the Technology Services Industry Association, says that it has “great positioning.” Stockford notes that “adaptive IVR that impacts the customer experience is revolutionary” and says that the company “truly leads the market with its ability to provide personalized customer service within the context of a multimodal interaction.” 


Genesys did not have a less-than-stellar score in any of this year’s judging, locking it in as the surefire winner: It posted scores of 4.4 in depth of functionality, 4.2 in company direction and cost, and 4.1 in customer satisfaction. Ragsdale says the company is “always pushing innovation” and “seems to have made the transition to cloud easier than its competitors.” McGee-Smith adds that it “has a history of excellence with Genesys Voice Portal” and expects “more of those assets to be made available across the former Interactive Intelligence portfolio in 2018 and beyond.” Wettemann notes that the company’s “move to the cloud and adjustments in pricing make it easier for customers to buy and pay aligned with their actual usage.”


Last year was a tumultuous one for Avaya, which started the year filing for bankruptcy protection, leaving its future in jeopardy. It emerged from Chapter 11 at the end of the year in a solid financial position and even acquired Spoken Communications, but analysts are still cautiously optimistic. The company netted a 4.1 score in depth of functionality, with McGee-Smith saying its Experience Portal “has been a solid product for customers for many years and continues to be an important part of the ongoing Oceana architecture.” Wettemann has a different view, saying there are “a lot of Avaya replacements, particularly for customers who want to move to a more cost-effective cloud solution.” 

[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]

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