The Pain Of Separation – Call Flow Scripting For IVR And Live Agents

June, 2012

By and large, call center scripting tools are built either for IVR only, or for agent scripts only, and are entirely separate entities. Why? This blog offers some answers and a way forward.

Contact centers with a need to develop call scripts/ call flows for both IVR and live agents, really have just 2 possibilities:

  • In-house IT resources – for script development in C# or HTML; usually only available to larger organisations, but often very expensive in terms of time and specialist resources
  • Script design products – for script development by non-programmers

Some have access to both, and find that design products offer a way to substantially cut the time, effort and cost involved in script development, even if they enhance further with in-house resources. Many others rely on design tools only.

But such call center scripting tools are often built either for IVR only, or for agent scripts only, and are entirely separate entities. We see much frustration in the marketplace over how productivity is hindered by having to use a variety of tools to design and implement standard services.

Why is it so difficult? After all, in practice, calls travel between IVR and real agents all the time: a caller might navigate an IVR menu to get to an agent, who sends him to an automated payment script, which returns him to the agent. Simple!

But in order to make that flow happen, there could be a great deal of pain behind the scenes. Anyone who has ever had to design an IVR logic flow will testify to how time-consuming it can be.

There is no shortage of tools to develop IVR flows. Most of them provide integration with a PBX and/ or database. But because of the complexity, many of these tools come with an offer to buy in 3rd party script writing expertise.

There are also plenty of development products out there for building scripts for live agents. Or maybe MS Word has served you well for this over many years.

But by and large IVR and agent scripts are not built using the same tool. Why not? Surely they are fundamentally the same thing: routing and branching decisions based on user input. One reason may be that specialist agent scripting products don’t require inbuilt telephony integration (e.g. DTMF capture), and therefore many don’t offer it. With IVR, on the other hand, CTI is a basic necessity.

The cost of using separate tools is multiplied because they require integration, often a painful business, and the result often feels held together with string and sticky tape. A great deal of time and money can be wasted trying to force disparate applications to play nicely together.

The magic bullet would be a single environment – a Grand Unified Theory – for development and delivery of both agent and IVR scripts, that would

  • handle logic flows for both IVR and agent scripts
  • allow rapid development by non-programmers
  • integrate fully with PBX telephony functions
  • allow seamless transfer between IVR and live agents
  • handle both development and deployment

If you are frustrated with the number of tools your team has to work with, or the shakiness with which they are held together, be more demanding of your supplier, or contact us to point you in the right direction.

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