Multimodal interactions: are they breaking through?

Written by Livio Pugliese

May 3, 2023

Last week I watched a webinar and demo by a company providing tools and solutions for conversational customer service. Interactive Media, where I work, is in the same sector and I wanted to scoop out a competitor, see what they have and how they are presenting their solutions to the market. Everyone does this of course; I don’t feel bad about it in the slightest.

This company was presenting with great emphasis a solution that allows a caller to synchronize a voice call (on a smartphone) to a visual IVR component. In essence, when users call, they are offered the option to receive a text message that contains a link to a personalized web application. The web app provides information about what the call is about, and you can navigate it by clicking on the pages, or by voice.

In the demo, this provides a great experience: all the information regarding the case is at the user’s fingertips, and it’s much easier to insert additional data. For instance, think about how hard it is to dictate an email address to an agent (let alone a virtual assistant!). With this type of visual IVR, the user can simply type it into a box, a much more efficient and error-free process.

This particular solution is not simple: you have to use conversational AI to understand what the caller says, being able to identify the intent and navigate precisely by voice, populate the web pages to service the intent on the fly, create and send the link by text message, and, most difficult of all, synchronize the voice and web parts of the session. Well done!

But seeing this demo left me rather surprised: you see, I was doing exactly the same demo with Interactive Media software 5 years ago (and I have the videos to prove it). This made me realize two things. One is that the Interactive Media people and technology are kick-ass, well ahead of most competition. But the other, considering that I was not able to sell this solution, is that sometimes focusing on increasingly sophisticated, “frictionless” services does not pay.

That demo is fantastic, but how many similar applications have you seen in real life? And, based on your real-life experience, how often would you need something similar? In essence, it seems to me that we as an industry are targeting increasingly complex software solutions to an ever-decreasing number of users.

The vast majority of users hope to never have to contact customer service. But when they do it is often for a simple question, one that does not in general need this type of infrastructure. Normally, users can search the company web site, chat with an agent or a chatbot, call in. A good percentage of people calling in does so because they are not comfortable with other channels, either because they are on the move and voice is the best way to interact, or because not everyone is familiar with web technology. Again, as an industry, we tech people tend to project our own experience onto everyone; folks, this is not the entire world!

For people who call in only with voice, there is PhoneMyBot, the Interactive Media service to provide voice channels to chatbots with a no-code, ready to roll approach. Companies that have deployed chatbots but have no conversational AI on the voice channels can use PhoneMyBot to enable telephone conversations with their existing self-service app. Conversational AI vendors who only support textual and web channel can use PhoneMyBot to offer voice channels to their customers. PhoneMyBot targets simpler self-service voice solutions for the vast majority of users.

But if you really need a synchronized voice and Visual IVR application for flashy service to your most tech-savvy customers, why don’t you also call Interactive Media? After all, we have a 5-year advantage.

Please go ahead and try PhoneMyBot for free: contact Interactive Media at info@imnet.com or click the button below.

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