Having just a few seconds to win the caller’s attention, you must go the extra mile to spark their interest, direct to a relevant product or sales rep, and convert. Luckily, a well-thought-out interactive voice response (IVR) system can do the mentioned and more, providing the maximum value for your callers and insightful customer data.
Up-to-date IVR technology for call centers can revolutionize your call logic to automatically solve basic requests and distribute your callers to a relevant sales rep while collecting actionable customer data insights. But before you get there, it would help to know what an IVR is, how it works, and whether it can benefit your company.
Without any further ado, let’s dig into IVR and why it might be crucial for your businesses.
- An interactive voice response (IVR) is a computer-based system that uses telephony to interact with callers, collect data, and route calls to an appropriate customer support agent or sales rep.
IVR systems can handle various tasks, including transactions, bookings, customer surveys, account information, and more.
IVR systems are invaluable for call-reliant businesses. The numbers don’t lie:
- Calls convert 1,500% more leads than web interactions.
- Around 60% of callers seek tailored engagement.
- Long call queues lose about 40% of callers.
An IVR system can reduce wait times, improve customer satisfaction, increase efficiency and cost savings, automate customer service, reduce manual work, streamline call routing and queue management, and more.
How Does an IVR Work?
- When customers call a business, an IVR walks them through a menu of helpful choices that presumably must satisfy the caller’s needs and wants. While the customer selects their desired option, the IVR collects their data, such as their phone number and location. Next, it routes the call to a relevant sales rep or customer service team member and solves the request on the spot.
IVR reduces hold times and speeds up customer transfer, streamlining and tailoring the customer journey for every caller. With features such as a queue log, it also unlocks customer interactions from start to finish.
Voice recognition enables customers to interact with the IVR system by speaking in their native language. It eliminates the need to navigate a complex menu and directs customers to the destination point faster. On top of that, using speech-to-text and text-to-speech technology, IVR can issue natural-sounding prompts to speed up the customer journey.
That said, voice recognition isn’t flawless and is only around 90% accurate, making mistakes here and there. For example, if a caller’s accent is difficult to understand or the speech pattern is hard to interpret, IVR may not flawlessly recognize their voice.
Voice Recognition Plus AI Equals Flawless IVR?
With the emergence of artificial intelligence, interactive voice response has become even more potent for call centers, as combining AI with speech recognition allows for a better language understanding and more accurate customer service.
Advanced AI can easily understand and interpret the caller’s intention, enabling the IVR to direct callers to the desired destination without using a phone menu. But then again, the two technologies must be adequately set up in the first place.
|Customer Journey||From solving requests on the spot without connecting the callers to a live agent to qualifying callers for the best sales rep, IVR improves the customer journey to make callers happy and thus easier to convert.|
|Availability||Unlike live agents, IVR doesn’t need rest or downtime, operating round-the-clock to keep your business running. Customers can access pre-recorded messages, process payments, and do other automated operations 24/7, leaving your agents fresh for necessary conversations.|
|Branding||As your company’s audible introduction, IVR conveys your brand’s message to customers, imprinting it into their minds. Whether you strive for brand consistency across all channels or want to offer your customers something special, you can configure your IVR for it.|
|Scaling||Handling any number of inbound calls simultaneously, IVR frees up your staff’s time while generating more call leads for your business. With no help from the side, IVR systems can accept payments, book appointments, provide real-time analytics on customer and agent performance, and more, scaling your business in many dimensions.|
|Sales Reps||IVR can consider up to a dozen criteria when distributing inbound calls – location, sales reps’ performance, company size, and many more – ensuring every caller gets what they’ve come for. Likewise, IVR allows you to evaluate sales reps’ performance using call recordings or a tailor-made live call assessment system.|
|Customer Retention||IVR can send messages about upcoming offers, discounts, loyalty rewards, and other retention information, enticing customers to continue doing business with you. Automated reminders can help keep customers up to date.|
|Fraud Prevention||IVR identifies suspicious callers and potential fraudsters using caller ID, automated security questions, and real-time analytics. With advanced IVR, most unwanted calls will never reach your live agents.|
What Avenues of Business Is IVR Best For?
IVR can offer automated customer service, schedule callbacks, notify callers of breakdowns and the expected troubleshooting time, and improve the first call resolution rate, eliminating the need for follow-up calls. Also, it can provide a way for customers to review their account status, pay Internet bills, request password resets, and more.
IVR can help insurers streamline the customer experience and automate claims filing, policy adjustments, account queries, and more. Likewise, it can generate reports for your insurance company, verify identities and payment details, and collect feedback.
IVR can provide room reservations, check-ins/check-outs, and other service requests, including contacting the right department quickly and on the first try. Well-thought-out IVR systems in a hotel business reduce or eliminate wait times on the phone and in lobbies, making hotels more effective.
IVR systems allow callers to access account information, make payments and inquiries, and handle transactions without needing to talk to a customer service representative, decreasing the wait time and costs associated with using customer service staff. Even complicated requests, such as fraud or ambiguous disputes, are often resolved faster and more accurately with an IVR phone system in place.
Understand why you need an IVR, who your target customers are, and what calls to prioritize. Establish call volume, identify peak times, and decide how you want to personalize the caller experience.
Create scripts for your IVR. Keep the voice prompts concise but effective. Figure out what you need to customize the messages for the caller.
Record the prompts while focusing on the audio quality so it would be easy to understand and convey your brand identity.
Set up a call routing path, so every caller reaches the appropriate destination.
Connect IVR to your customer management system, call center staff, and other departments. Monitor the IVR’s performance in real-time to ensure it meets your customers’ needs.
As valuable as an IVR automation system can be for improving your inbound calls, it must be set up and maintained properly.
Avoid these mistakes when setting up your IVR:
- Poor integration. IVR is usually part of a bigger call management system comprising call tracking and analytics. The quality of integration determines the depth of data exchange and analysis, how well you structure your call routing, and the effectiveness of your call marketing.
- Lack of updates. You can’t set up your IVR automation once without updating it as the business landscape changes. Outdated or irrelevant IVR menus are the shortest way to lose callers.
- Exhausting customer journey. Too complex customer journeys result in switching to a live agent or abandoning the call altogether. Do not force your callers to plow through endless menus of countless options, as this will likely lead to you losing the lion’s share of them.
- Lack of feedback. Simple choices like “Yes” or “No” may not be enough to translate the caller’s needs and wants. A much better solution would be to allow callers to use a rating system, for instance, from 0 to 5.
The key to finding the best IVR system for your business is researching all possible options beforehand. Here are three things to consider:
- Usability: Does your IVR have an intuitive, easy-to-use, and attractive UI that won’t scare away customers?
- Functionality: Does your IVR system offer speech recognition and other features to speed up the customer journey and reduce customer service costs?
- Data security: Does your IVR protect customer data and comply with industry standards like HIPAA and PCI?
Ultimately, the choice of IVR for your business will depend on your needs and budget. Taking the time to research and evaluate different options will help you find a reliable and cost-effective solution.