If you run a contact center—or even a phone line at a small, local business—you’re probably familiar with interactive voice response (IVR) technology. Customers usually aren’t fond of these automated phone systems, which too often consist of static menus that can’t consider why this particular caller might have called. Many IVR platforms use text to speech, or TTS, to generate voice prompts without having to rely on costly, time-consuming voice recordings: This is traditional TTS IVR. But it’s a technology that’s changing rapidly.
This is good news for customer service decision-makers who consider call centers a necessary evil. Text to speech, IVR, and artificial intelligence are combining in new ways that allow companies to get the best of both worlds: personalized self-service for callers without the massive labor budgets associated with a growing staff of human agents. Sound promising? Keep reading to learn more about conversational IVR and Intelligent Voice Agents (IVA), which represent a new wave of automated customer service telephony.
From Text-to-Speech IVR to Conversational IVR and IVA
Traditional IVR systems used TTS prompts to provide options to the caller. These prompts tended to be drawn-out static menus, delivered in a stilted, robotic TTS voice. Today, consumers prefer a more personal style of communication. The advent of hyper-personalization, marketing that addresses individual preferences, has created new expectations—and waiting through irrelevant menu options isn’t part of them.
Conversational IVR and IVA solutions speak to the caller in short, simple, personalized sentences, while advanced TTS provides a welcoming synthetic voice. These platforms use AI to recognize the speaker’s intent and generate relevant comments, providing clear paths to resolution. Neural TTS voices can even express appropriate emotions with customizable speaking styles, showing care for the caller as an individual. Neural TTS for IVR or IVA doesn’t speak the way we write; it speaks the way we speak: Not “Your request is being processed,” but “Hm, let me check that out.”
This approach creates a vastly more satisfying customer experience—which has a direct impact on your bottom line. According to research from PWC, 17% of U.S. customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. After several, that figure goes up to nearly 60%—even when customers are otherwise happy with the original brand. Conversational IVR or IVA improves caller satisfaction, which is clearly essential for continued growth.
How Intelligent Virtual Agents Use Text to Speech
The contact center market is increasingly adopting Intelligent Virtual Agents, or IVAs. These AI-powered voicebots manage calls at the front end of the system, communicating with the caller through a TTS voice. They handle simple customer service needs, but can transfer the caller to a human agent when necessary. Prior to escalating the call to an agent, the IVA collects all the necessary information from the caller, all without the long, frustrating menus associated with traditional TTS IVR.
Conversational IVR systems and IVAs aren’t just for enterprise-level contact centers, either. They’re also ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. Whether your customer wants to make a dinner reservation or shut off their gas service, conversational IVR and IVAs can provide a satisfying experience without demanding a huge staff of human agents. They can also help to build the brand relationship—but only if you take the opportunity to set your brand apart with a unique, expressive custom TTS voice.
The Importance of Brand Voice in Smart IVR Applications
Contact centers allow you to speak directly with your customers, and a low-quality TTS IVR voice will leave a negative impression. The solution is to create a lifelike TTS voice that provides the best possible experience for your callers. The ReadSpeaker AI VoiceLab leverages advanced deep neural networks (DNN) to craft original, top-quality TTS voices for brands, expressing brand attributes through a unique speaker persona that customers associate with you alone.
This unique quality of a custom voice is an important part of TTS for an IVR system or an IVA. A generic TTS voice—even one with decent quality—can’t create the recognition brands rely on to set themselves apart. Custom branded voices from ReadSpeaker AI remove this challenge.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to build a TTS IVR voice that helps to keep your customers satisfied, even during tough customer service calls.