Integrating Conversational AI and IVR To Elevate the Customer Experience

Discover how integrating conversational AI into IVR can revolutionize your FI contact center by reducing volume and increasing customer satisfaction.

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Integrating Conversational AI and IVR To Elevate the Customer Experience

In recent years, financial institutions (FIs) have seemingly concentrated their focus on banking apps and other forms of mobile customer service. This effort has, in large part, been driven by today’s increasingly younger (and digitally native) customer base. You might think, therefore, that customers prefer automated text conversations with a chatbot to solve their problems. However, even Gen Z customers prefer real people, with 71% agreeing that a direct phone call with a live agent is the quickest, most convenient way to deal with a customer service issue, according to McKinsey.

A recent survey from Vonage backs this claim more generally, indicating that customers of all ages prefer a phone call above other engagement channels. But the same survey revealed that 61% of respondents felt frustrated by the phone tag resulting from having to hop between multiple agents via multiple transfers. 

This leaves banks and credit unions with an opportunity to create a competitive advantage through voice channels. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of solutions developed specifically for banks and credit unions to maintain the high level of personalization that is important to both the organization and its customers — that is until conversational AI entered the scene.

Designed to streamline support operations and elevate the customer experience, conversational AI solutions transform the traditional contact center experience. But before we dive into how voice-enabled AI agents can field calls and enhance customer engagement, we should start by examining the current landscape of interactive voice response (IVR).

What Is IVR?

An interactive voice response system is an automated telephone solution that interacts with callers and collects information by presenting a series of pre-recorded messages and menu options. Traditional IVR technology requires callers to press numbers on their keypad to navigate through a system. While a newer IVR system might offer speech recognition, allowing customers to respond to a rudimentary voice assistant, they’re still limited to certain responses, phrases and inquiries.

Due to this rigid structure, lack of personalization and overall inefficiency, these standard IVR systems often lead to frustrating user experiences. Plus, it often takes the caller multiple layers to reach a human agent — and when they do, the employee might not have the context to immediately address their needs.

On the other hand, conversational AI integrations leverage artificial intelligence and natural language processing to create more intuitive and engaging interactions with callers. 

How Does Conversational AI Transform Traditional IVR?

Unlike traditional IVR systems, those with conversational AI integrations allow users to engage in natural conversations, mimicking interactions with live agents. By automatically interpreting customer intent and generating accurate, personalized responses, conversational AI makes life easier for customers and opens up new growth opportunities for businesses.

Customers can quickly resolve common inquiries or be seamlessly directed to the right team member for further assistance, leading to a more satisfying experience. This streamlines support processes and frees up your agents to focus on higher-value tasks, such as helping customers achieve their financial goals. Additionally, the natural and engaging interactions fostered by conversational AI leave customers feeling heard and understood, enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Why Integrate Conversational AI?

With AI and automation on the rise, countless companies are rethinking their IVR systems. Migrating to a new system is the perfect time to implement AI — by incorporating conversational AI into their current or recently updated IVR/telephony systems, FIs are phasing out outdated and cumbersome phone trees. The addition of conversational AI also helps to reduce contact center volume and increases customer satisfaction, saving your organization time and money. 

Here are some key benefits of leveraging conversational AI to elevate traditional IVR:

Automate Contact Center Tasks and Get Straightforward Answers to FAQs

Leveraging artificial intelligence and natural language processing, these systems can automatically interpret and respond to common inquiries faster than a human can. With a firm understanding of caller intent and customer needs, conversational AI delivers instant, accurate and relevant information. If an inquiry is particularly complex or requires a human agent, these systems will automatically direct the caller to your contact center for a live agent assist.

Deliver 24/7 Customer Accessibility and Support

IVR systems with conversational AI also provide 24/7 support, ensuring that your FI can offer assistance at any time of the day or night. Utilizing voice automation, these systems can handle customer inquiries around the clock, providing immediate responses and solutions. This constant availability enhances customer satisfaction by eliminating wait times and offering support outside of regular business hours. Plus, FIs can eliminate overflow and end their reliance on inefficient third-party call centers.

Reduce Call Volume and Handle Time

In addition to the customer benefits of integrating conversational AI, agents can also benefit from reduced contact center volume and handling times. By efficiently managing routine inquiries and tasks, a voice assistant minimizes the time customers spend on calls, thereby decreasing the workload on human agents. Instead of handling mind-numbing FAQs, they can use their time more effectively to field more complex calls and focus on higher-value tasks.

Improve the Customer Experience With Self-Service Capabilities

Voice AI is the next step in the evolution of customer self-service, empowering individuals to resolve issues independently and efficiently. These integrations elevate the customer experience by guiding users to various resources and tasks, such as transaction details, account inquiries, money transfers and more. Adding AI to IVR systems also improves operational efficiency, as it streamlines service delivery and reduces the overall burden on contact center staff.

Track and Analyze Data on Customer Interactions

IVR systems with AI integrations offer robust data tracking and analytics capabilities, enabling your organization to gain valuable insights into customer interactions and behavior. By monitoring calls and capturing data on FAQs, customer behavior and call outcomes, these systems provide a comprehensive view of customer service performance. This data can be used to illuminate trends, identify and address knowledge gaps, and personalize customer interactions with tailored responses and recommendations

Leverage Data To Improve Operations

In addition to customer personalization, conversational AI data can also be used to spot patterns and trends that help optimize workflows and processes. For example, AI can analyze customer questions and answer history to uncover gaps in knowledge coverage on the organization’s website or other self-service channels. Additionally, data analysis can reveal common customer inquiries, enabling you to create more effective self-service options and conversational AI answers that address customer needs.

Increase Productivity and Reduce Costs

Automating routine tasks allows agents to focus on more complex, high-value tasks and interactions that a voice AI agent can’t handle. This efficiency leads to lower operational costs and improved agent productivity. By reducing the need for extensive human resources, you can also allocate resources more effectively, enhancing overall operational efficiency. The result is a cost-effective solution that delivers better customer service and performance.

Easily Scale AI Operations

One of the key advantages of conversational AI integrations in IVR is their scalability. You can easily scale your AI-enabled IVR operations to handle increasing call volumes without compromising service quality. As customer demands grow, it’s easy to adjust these systems to accommodate more interactions, ensuring consistent and reliable customer service. This means your IVR system can grow with your FI's needs, providing long-term value and supporting ongoing customer engagement efforts.

Conversational AI: One Piece of the Puzzle

As legacy telephony systems migrate to the cloud, decision-makers frequently prefer a phased approach, often prioritizing the cloud migration before integrating AI capabilities. This preference is often rooted in a desire to manage internal resource allocation and minimize disruption to customer experience. However, it's important to note that a simultaneous implementation of both cloud and AI technologies could offer a more streamlined and efficient transition, ultimately maximizing the benefits of both advancements.

While these are worthwhile considerations, it's best practice to incorporate the launch of conversational AI at the same time as your telephony upgrade to provide a seamless transition for your members and customers, lower the total cost of implementation and realize a faster time to value for both investments.   

Read more on Maximizing Your Financial Institution's Telephony Move to the Cloud

Power a Better Experience With Posh

The evolution of your customer experience doesn’t have to be at the expense of other projects. By delivering the best-in-class tools, your customers will leave feeling satisfied with their experience. 

Posh is committed to democratizing banking access by equipping banks and credit unions with the benefits of conversational AI. Posh has a demonstrated history of providing immediate time-to-value by enhancing customer support and enabling more engaging customer interactions through the integration of conversational AI with IVR.

Don’t Just Take It From Us: Hear What Our Clients Are Saying

Citadel Credit Union set out to solve for friction-free service making it easier to get to the right agent without a lot of hassle. “We needed to find a solution that would allow us to decrease call volumes, improve customer experience, and reduce costs,” says Pam Krupansky, VP of Member Experience and Sales at Citadel. 

Posh’s no-code approach has enabled and contributed to the team’s success. The staff has been trained to manage Adel behind the scenes, supporting immediate communication needs without requiring an IT ticket or a program manager. This means customers are up-to-date on current information at a moment's notice and can provide answers to questions on the fly. 

Furthermore, the implementation of conversational AI has solidified savings, ultimately saving the credit union $663,267 in third-party costs. Citadel achieved an increase in a higher NPS score a year after implementing Adel. 

Read more about how Citadel lowered costs by $660K/year and raised its NPS score.

Are you exploring Conversational AI for your institution? Request a demo; we’re here to help! 

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