Table of contents
- What is IVR?
- The benefits of using IVR software
- Choosing LiveVox as your IVR software provider
- Contact LiveVox today for an IVR upgrade
In the old days, when you called a business, you’d reach the company’s switchboard. A friendly voice would answer, find out why you were calling, and manually insert a pair of phone jacks into the appropriate plugs to transfer you to the right place. It got the job done, but it was labor-intensive and tedious.
Thankfully, these days we don’t have to rely on a room full of people in a basement moving phone cords around all day to make sure a business’ calls go through. Instead, we have an easy, user-friendly, and cost-effective way to manage incoming calls and tackle user requests in an efficient manner: IVR software.
What is IVR?
IVR stands for interactive voice response. It’s the automated system that enables callers to interact with a company, usually via phone (“press one for English, two for Spanish” is an IVR staple you’ve probably heard countless times).
At their most basic function, IVR systems present a caller with a set of options and prompt them to choose between those options by pressing or saying a number. The call is then routed to the designated person or department. But modern IVR is much more than just an automated call answering service. It can help prioritize calls of different urgency levels, mitigate call volume, increase service speed and make a dramatic impact on the customer experience.
It’s easy to see how IVR fits into an inbound customer service strategy, but the possibilities don’t end there. It can be leveraged in creative ways to support a company’s efforts in marketing, outbound sales, customer retention, accounting, operations, surveys and more. It can be deployed to improve performance in nearly any industry, including customer service, banking, healthcare, telecom, retail and tourism, just to name a few.
There are two main components that make an IVR system successful:
- It’s designed with the customer in mind, and
- It’s part of a fully integrated contact center software.
Designing the system with the customer in mind means using customer data to build relevant IVR menus, regularly updating them, offering a manageable number of options, and testing your system amongst real users. By integrating your IVR software with your customer database, you’ll enjoy the added benefits of personalization capabilities and a streamlined, unified record of all customer interactions that grows richer over time.
The functions of IVR software go well beyond the ability to receive calls and route them. When leveraged effectively, IVR can be an invaluable tool for saving time, improving outcomes and delighting customers.
The benefits of using IVR software
Make customers’ interactions easier
First and foremost, IVR is a customer service tool. Your experiences with it as a customer have probably run the gamut, from aggravating and ineffective to surprisingly easy and pleasant. Think for a moment about those interactions in the latter category–maybe you called a company’s 1-800 number, were offered the option you needed immediately and were able to solve your issue via the automated phone system in a matter of minutes. So easy, right? When your IVR system is set up correctly, you can make these easy, satisfying experiences the standard.
Increase first contact resolutions
By matching IVR menu options with self-service tools like the ability to check a balance, pay a bill or find out about company policies, you can help a large number of callers arrive at a solution almost immediately and get on with their day. The rest can be routed to the most appropriate agent on the first transfer, greatly increasing your first-call resolution rate.
One of the best uses of IVR software is for intelligent call routing. Use it to prioritize calls based on customer value, urgency level, number of calls, issue complexity and more. This way your VIP customers or those with truly urgent issues are never kept waiting. You can also route calls based on agents, like agents with certain expertise or those who have previously worked on a specific issue. Prioritizing calls in an intelligent way rather than simply answering them in the order they come in contributes to more effective service and more satisfied customers.
Boost agent efficiency
In many cases, IVR will enable customers to resolve their issue completely on their own. When they do need a live agent, though, IVR does a lot of the up-front legwork by gathering customer data like their account number, completing identity verification and gathering more information about the reason for the call. Armed with this background, the agent can hit the ground running when they get on the line, further increasing resolution speed.
Provides a rich set of analytics
The transactional nature of IVR–press this button, get this outcome–makes it incredibly easy to analyze its effectiveness at every stage and identify areas for improvement. Is there a big spike in call drop-offs after the second set of menu options? Your IVR structure may be too complex to be useful. Are you seeing a high percentage of customers press zero to speak with an agent? You might not be offering the relevant self-service options. By diving into the data IVR affords, you can continuously fine-tune your menu and prompts to help customers reach better outcomes more of the time.
By offloading self-serviceable calls onto your interactive voice response system, you can manage your regular call volume with fewer live agents. And, since IVR helps agents tackle each interaction more efficiently, less of their time is wasted on unproductive tasks like searching for customer data. With the analytics mentioned above, IVR can help you optimize scheduling so you never have too many agents sitting idle on the clock. All of this contributes to lower staffing costs.
When IVR is integrated with your contact center software, you can tailor the options customers hear based on their known data. For example, you might play one set of menu options for customers who own product A and a different set of more relevant options for customers who own product B. When IVR is coupled with smart voice recognition technology, customers can speak naturally and ask for help with their exact issue rather than trying to fit it into a predetermined menu option. More personalized experiences mean happier customers.
Open a new sales channel
Up until this point, we’ve been talking mainly about IVR’s capabilities as they pertain to inbound calls, but it can be used as an outbound tool, too. This opens up an entirely new way of selling that eliminates the need for live telemarketers. And, because it’s more personalized than a cold call with a robotic script, customers are more likely to respond positively. Read more about the best practices for effective outbound IVR here.
Improve brand perception
In a smaller organization, it’s not uncommon for employees to wear many hats. But for your image’s sake, your customer probably doesn’t need to know that Jim from tech support is also tackling billing issues on the side. Based on the way you configure your IVR prompts, you can offer customers the option to speak to sales, support, accounting, and so on, which gives the impression of a more robust and established organization.
Create customer delight
A positive IVR experience offers all of the things customers love: speed, efficiency and personalization, all wrapped up into one delightfully easy package. As part of your broader customer experience strategy, IVR can aid in retention, boost customer loyalty, increase lifetime value, and win you word-of-mouth referrals. When it comes to customer satisfaction, the pointed question is, can you afford not to offer IVR?
Choosing LiveVox as your IVR software provider
In a rapidly changing world, deciding where to allocate resources can be a challenge. LiveVox helps companies deploy the omnichannel strategies necessary for success in a modern business landscape while managing a growing workforce and mitigating risk. Our fully integrated cloud contact center platform empowers organizations to meet their customers where they are today and evolve with them tomorrow, deploying personalization and best-in-class service every step of the way. Our battle-tested risk mitigation tools keep you on the right side of the law while protecting your integrity and making your customers feel secure.
We build software, but we’re focused on solutions, delivering the practical tools you need to increase your operational efficiency and maximize financial performance. User-friendly dashboards boost agent productivity while 360-degree reporting gives you an up-to-the-minute understanding of your performance so it’s simple to ascertain the best place to focus your efforts.
With more than 20 years of cloud expertise, LiveVox is the easy choice in next-generation contact center platforms. Learn more about the LiveVox philosophy here.
Contact LiveVox today for an IVR upgrade
Ready to take the next step toward more efficient agents and happier customers? To see our voice, omnichannel, WFO, CRM and speech analytics capabilities in action, request your LiveVox demo now. If you have questions about our services or are looking for assistance in choosing the best contact center platform for your needs, contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you.
If you’re looking to model companies that offer the best IVR customer service, look no further than major US airlines. For example, Delta invested in conversational IVR to field it’s over 36 million annual customer inquiries and saved $5 million. That’s because the best IVRs, like the one Delta chose, incorporate conversational AI with AI virtual agents using natural language processing to more accurately and quickly resolve customer problems.
IVR systems are used to provide automated self-service for customers. They’re a great resource for solving the low-hanging inquiries that require simple contact and account lookups. They’re usually organized via menu prompts that contain the most common customer problems as selections. More advanced IVRs rely on artificial intelligence and natural language processing to perform more complex, humanlike interactions.
Most call centers will offer some variation of an IVR or live webchat with or without virtual agents. The differences when comparing the two fall along the lines of how intelligent both capabilities are and the preferences of each customer. Overall, both channels can quickly be escalated to a live agent and use pick lists, or prompts, for customers to choose from. Basic IVRs cannot break from their predefined scripts, while live webchat with intelligent virtual agents can carry out more nuanced conversations.