This article was published on April 27, 2015

Building a hardware-free voice-based customer experience

Building a hardware-free voice-based customer experience
Jamie Tolentino
Story by

Jamie Tolentino

Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Quirk London. Aside from writing for TNW, she also blogs on the Huffington Post UK.

Interactive voice response technology (IVR) has evolved over the past few decades. Companies no longer require dedicated hardware to implement a voice-based customer experience.

A new breed of cloud communication platforms typically combine a pay-per-use cost model characteristic of cloud services together with simple telephony Application Program Interface (API) tools, simplifying how developers can integrate IVR into their applications. The result is a low operational cost and easier, faster implementation.

With IVR, here are some potential voice-based customer experiences:

Cheaper international conference calls

The cost of an international call, when you get them from a traditional telecommunications company, can be astoundingly high. However, when you run global teams, international conference calls aren’t just common, but often required.

While there are Web or mobile conferencing solutions that run over Wi-Fi or a data connection, this may not be the most convenient solution.


With voice-based cloud communication platforms, you can allow company employees to dial into international conference calls using a local number. As a result, they will be paying a local rather than international rate, significantly reducing the cost.

Some of these voice platforms work closely with carriers across the globe, in effect gaining access to high quality local lines and being able to provision these local numbers dial-in numbers quickly. If you suddenly have a new partner or open a new office in a different country, your provider would be able to get you a local dial-in number for that country as well.

With this arrangement, there is no hardware required on the company’s side so they can scale up voice conferencing to many countries rapidly.

Another benefit of using cloud communication platforms is that they usually bill for only the time spent on the call. Traditionally, you would purchase access to a voice channel designed to cater up to a certain number of concurrent calls, then pay for that access even if only a few or no calls took place.

In effect, using the pay-per-use model of cloud communications will allow you to never pay for unused channel time.

This is also beneficial for services who offer audio and video conferencing services to a global client base, or collaboration apps who offer voice conferencing as a feature as they will be able to charge customers on a lower rate.

Global voice message broadcasting

Sending a message that results in a high engagement rate when measured globally can be difficult to implement.

One can do it the common way via email, but it risks ending up in spam or sitting in one’s inbox unopened. An alternative and more effective method is to send an SMS as nearly 90 percent of messages are read within the first three minutes of delivery.


With such great response times, this channel is popularly used to deliver business-critical information. However, with several country-specific restrictions that SMS can encounter, such as the inability to deliver promotional messages during certain times or using a URL within a message, the broadcast will have to be staggered to ensure deliverability to all customers around the globe in accordance with said country-specific requirements.

Using voice messages can surpass the issue of having to deliver the message at different times as there are no country specific restrictions for this channel. It can also broaden the reach of your message by adding landline numbers. You can send a pre-recorded MP3 message to 80 countries within a 10-minute span.

Pre-recorded messages can be useful to provide a personal touch to having an announcement, special offer or changes to your service.

Barclays used global voice message broadcasting as a pre-mail communication around a direct marketing campaign. The voice message told Barclaycard customers to watch out for a very special mailer, resulting in a 21 percent increased conversion rate as it generated anticipation.

By using a cloud-based platform, Barclays didn’t have to invest in any hardware or fixed landline cost to implement this campaign.

Virtual company switchboard

dial pad phone

When a customer calls a switchboard number, they are usually redirected. Having interactive voice responses can guide the customer and transfer them to the right person or department without human intervention.

The common, ‘Press 1 for department X, Press 2 for department Y’ can free up your customer’s time if this redirection process is automated via IVR. If the system is sophisticated enough, you can even try to match a customer with a PIN number and redirect them to the right help person, or account manager.

IVR can also be used for sales, where the menus can guide the customer to the relevant products they want and direct them to the relevant forms used to order the product. Another option is to be automatically guided until they have found the product they want, then be transferred to a live sales agent who can assist in completing the order.

IVR can be designed to deal with more sophisticated requests, such as flight information – which are connected to the flight databases to provide up-to-date arrival and departure times, cancellations and rebooking opportunities. They can also be designed to deal with financial information in the same manner by providing real-time stock data feed information via voice to customers.

With lower barrier to entry and multiple benefits, we may start seeing even more voice-based customer experiences appear in the near future.

Read next: Enhancing customer engagement with interactive voice response

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.