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In all the talk about omni-channels, interactive voice response (IVR) is rarely mentioned, yet it is the channel many customers must struggle through. Customer interaction vendor Aspect Software is fully aware of IVR’s continued importance, so much so that it announced this week an agreement to buy IVR provider Voxeo Corporation for approximately US$ 150 million.

Voxeo, based in Orlando, Florida, also provides a platform for Communications Enabled Business Processes. Aspect said in a statement the purchase will enhance its ability to support its deployments with “a market-leading IVR and multi-channel self-service capability.”

More Flexible Options

Voxeo chief executive officer Bob Ingalls told news media that, while his company has achieved “strong financial growth that has outpaced the broader market,” there are more and more opportunities that “require a broader call center solution.”

The companies said that Voxeo is the only provider of hosted, private and hybrid offerings for customer service, and that the marriage combines “Aspect’s innovative contact center solutions with Voxeo’s self-service and multi-channel platforms.” Specifically, Aspect is expected to be able to serve SMBs with more flexible options while Voxeo customers can now get a comprehensive customer contact center solution with interaction, workforce optimization and IVR.

The Multi-Channel Necessity

A report conducted by custom research agency TNS for Aspect and released in April confirmed the need to fully support multiple channels. Among other things, the report found that 77 percent of respondents think companies that offer multiple channels for their customer service are “easier to do business with,” and 74 percent believe that such companies provide better service. But lack of integration between the channels -- as might be provided by, say, a single vendor -- leads to frustration among customers who have to repeat themselves.

Aspect introduced its cloud-based Aspect Social in January -- a collaboration with Lithium Technologies to provide tools so that contact center agents could utilize social media in their interactions with customers. The collaboration employed Lithium’s Social Web product, whose technology Lithium acquired when it purchased Social Dynamx in late 2012.