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5 Reasons to move from IVR to Voice AI

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Are you considering switching your IVR service to an AI-based Voice conversation system, but have questions? Worry not, because you are not alone!

Voice response technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Everyone we know is talking about AI, its potential, and its pitfalls. If you are planning to tap into the power of Voice AI, then it is extremely important that you consider the potential risks and benefits to both your company and your customers. In this blog post, let us look at some of the key steps on why you should consider upgrading your IVR.

But before that, let's briefly touch on Voice AI.

What is Voice AI?

Voice communication is becoming ubiquitous worldwide. With the advancement in AI-based technologies such as speech recognition systems, NLP, and near human-like synthetic voice, it is now possible to replace a DTMF (where you have to press a key on the phone) based IVR with a modern AI-based voice conversation system, that responds to human voice and intents.

A voice AI implementation can address a variety of customer experience challenges and adds unique new capabilities that can go a long way in addressing persistent customer satisfaction and engagement issues.

What's the problem with the legacy IVR?

There is an extensive usage of IVR systems worldwide, yet there are many challenges that customers face day after day that are still unnoticed. Are they ending up dropping the call because of long waits, or just giving up after facing a confusing IVR menu? Well there are many, but we have picked the top 5 problems after handling 100+ IVR systems across organizations:

We have reviewed 100+ IVR systems across organizations

1. High Percentage of Short Calls

A high percentage of short calls impacts the total call time. IVR is usually stacked up with long menus. And sometimes these can be confusing to some customers, who may not remember which number to press for which option, once they have heard all of the options. In the case of an IVR, the customers need to pay attention to all the options with patience and carefully key in the inputs to get the desired output. Also, not having a well-stocked menu that is designed to provide adequate options for the customer and a menu that is hard to navigate, often leads to unsatisfactory customer experiences.

An IVR with long menus can cause customers to hang up before they can speak to an authorized agent, thus resulting in a high percentage of short calls.

Improve the overall call drop percentage ranging between 12% - 17% through AI and enjoy high-converting calls with better Customer Experience.

An AI Voice Conversation system directly responds to customer queries at the first instance. There are no long menus to listen to, and customers can directly communicate their queries verbally rather than listening to the long never ending menu and pressing a button.

With AI-based voice conversation, customers can reach the correct agent almost instantaneously as soon as they call in. This addresses the issue of high dropouts from the IVR menu stage, improving the problem of high short calls.

2. One-Way Interaction

Most often, an IVR involves a one-way interaction, meaning that one-way systems rely on callers to listen to the recording and press a button which is very inconvenient and time-consuming. At times, customers may prefer to connect with the representatives directly due to the insufficient options that are provided in the IVR. These customers end up landing on an agent who may then have to route the call, based on the expertise required to address the customer's concern.

The never-ending instructions and the inconvenient UI has increased the dropout to 30% in case of inbound IVR calls. Thus, people prefer writing emails rather than waiting in long call queues.

Switching to an intelligent Voice AI that understands the true intent of customer query, can provide a human-like real-time conversation. This is a two-way interaction system that allows specific customer objectives for calling to be mapped to the correct agent. For instance, if the customers call about a product technical complaint versus a billing issue, then the call gets routed to the appropriate agent, providing full context for quick redressal of the issue. Such easy access to customer support results in improved customer satisfaction.

3. Long Call Queues

Another side effect of the inadequacy of options that are provided in the IVR is that customers will have to wait in a very long call queue and also there is no guarantee that the call will be answered by the representative. Not to mention, what happens if there is a phone network issue right after waiting for 5 minutes?

On the other hand, companies also face difficulties in achieving the 80:20 SLA, due to the iterative process of answering repetitive queries and an inability to handle the number of callers that are waiting in line.

Abandoned call from the queue is improved and 6-10% short call abandonment can be improved with an AI-based Voice Conversation System.

This can be handled efficiently through AI by automating repetitive tasks and using manpower only for unique queries. Also, AI can accommodate a very short and pertinent discussion with the customers. This not only enables good customer satisfaction but also ensures that all the expectations of the customers are met.

4. IVR Changes are difficult

IVR customization is a tedious and time-consuming process that is usually outsourced. A series of changes are needed to be made in many systems, including EPABX and the contact center software. Having generic IVR options may result in calls getting routed to agents, who then need to re-route them to the correct agent. Any rationalization of these flows requires you to go back to your vendor and have them reconfigure the entire call flow. For instance, if a customer calls an agent to report an address change, or to report suspected fraud, then it is the duty of the agent receiving the call, to route the call to the proper department.

With Voice AI, this is no longer an issue. When a customer reports a problem, an AI-based system can cut short all intermediate steps and go straight to the expert, who can handle the matter expeditiously. Any changes to Voice AI are far more stable (since a very large number of intents are supported, to begin with) and easy (since the addition of new intents accompanies changes to contact center API integration with correct dispositions and routing instructions).

5. Difficulties in Workforce Management

Managers along with the WFM (Workforce Management) team needs to spend a significant amount of time concerning forecast, manpower planning, and rostering. After having an effective conversation with multiple managers, we have realized that the life of a call center agent is a pain because of the issues, such as addressing various customer needs from the organization in multiple languages, while meeting quality parameters set by senior management through continuous training of agents, monitoring conversations, handling retention and absenteeism issues.

An immediate benefit of a Voice AI system is a dramatic reduction in routine calls reaching call center agents. This system is available 24x7, and it is immune to surges and vagaries of agent availability. A focus on specialization helps with higher motivation and retention levels for call center agents, battling the infamously high attrition issues of a call center.

Keeping in mind all the above, how will your existing IVR service stand up against the advanced AI-based voice conversation systems? It surely becomes a question of fact.

Why Choose AI Voice Over IVR?

Whereas Voice AI helps fix many of the endemic issues of legacy AI, it brings with it some benefits of its own.

1. Ease of Use

Voice AI-based systems are very convenient to use by every single person, irrespective of whether a person is tech-savvy or not since they just have to speak. As a result, it eliminates the customer's frustrations as they are no longer required to speak and type on the phone at the same time.

Needless to say that all Voice AI systems are not created equal, so you would be well advised to research your options.

2. Speech Analytics

Voice AI-based systems can analyze and judge the mood of the customers, just by listening to the voice and tone of their conversation. And since this is a predictable automated system, there isn't a need to monitor these calls.

3. Breaking the Language Barrier

AI-based voice conversation system, when it does its job well, can understand multiple languages and avoid situations where two people who can barely understand each other try to stumble along and complete a conversation. Today, you may need to find an agent who knows more than one language, or you may need to roster multiple agents who can handle all possible languages. A Voice AI, on the other hand, can follow the same script and knowledge-base, and speak in all possible languages that you wish to support.


IVR systems that were built decades ago, now have competition from AI-based voice conversation systems. AI-based voice systems address many of the nagging technological and organizational challenges that we have learned to live with. Improvements are seen in customer satisfaction and customer engagement as these voice AI systems have real-time human-like interaction with the customers. Now, is the time for you to take note and prepare for the future, as Voice AI will take over the legacy IVR systems. It is a matter of "when" and not "if".

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