You know that voice you hear when you call a company, asking you to select 1 or 2, prompting you to speak your request, and directing you down a menu of options? That’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR). It’s been around forever. We’ve all had one of those experiences calling a company and going in an endless circle in an automated system, always ending up back at the same menu options, without making any progress. You’ve also likely had a positive experience where you needed a quick answer, interacted with IVR by typing or speaking a few numbers or words, and received what you needed in about a minute.
Yes, IVR can be frustrating, but with the right goals and execution, you can create a much better experience for your customers, while providing huge improvements for contact center efficiency.
So, what is IVR exactly?
IVR is technology widely used by call centers to allow customers to interact with a business via phone keypad or speech recognition. IVR automates the first interaction between customer and call center and is a self-service tool that can create a higher level of efficiency for contact centers and improve customer satisfaction.
There are three different ways a customer can interact with IVR: directed, open-ended and mixed. Directed IVR asks customers questions and then prompts with specific answers. Open-ended asks customers questions and leaves it open to allow the caller to respond in whatever way they choose. Mixed combines both, tailoring each question based on the type of answer needed.
Top 3 reasons to implement IVR
Save money by lowering human capital cost
One of the many benefits of IVR is the self-service nature of the software. By introducing the right prompts and features, customers can get answers to their questions without ever speaking with a live agent.
IVR can have the answers to frequently asked questions already programmed. Need to know your local branch hours? Press 3. Curious about your current balance? Press 6. These are pre-programmed messages designed to quickly address common questions.
There are other ways IVR can help customers solve their own problems, such as allowing customers to pay their bills through the system or check the status of a payment. These were traditionally interactions that required a live agent, but IVR software can handle these simple tasks.
IVR also integrates with a standard automated call distribution (ACD) system. If a customer’s call needs to be escalated, ACD can route the customer to the appropriate agent, based on a customer’s responses to IVR questions. If the customer is matched up with the right agent, there are less call transfers and issues are likely to be solved faster.
By increasing the ability for customers to self-serve, and streamlining transfers to agents, call centers can cut down on human cost.
Through the implementation of IVR, contact centers can improve their customer experience. While self-service is a highlight of IVR, there are still many instances of human agent escalation. In those cases, other features need to take effect to keep a customer happy. IVR has several features for those situations: providing estimated wait times, saving a customer’s place in line, and scheduling callbacks. All three of these features provide the customer with a choice for how they wish to interact and how they want to spend their time. If the wait time is short, the customer can feel confident that if they stay on the phone, they’ll speak to someone quickly. By saving their place in line, they can be assured someone will get back to them at the contact center’s earliest convenience (and the customer doesn’t need to sit on the phone for hours). And by scheduling callbacks, a customer has the option to choose the most convenient time in the future to chat with an agent and get their issues resolved.
IVR provides the data needed to understand a customer’s profile and intelligently route calls to human agents. By integrating with your CRM, you are able to identify the caller and escalate appropriately. These decisions can be based on a customer’s VIP status, number of times called, or issue type. Additionally, IVR can help your contact center route customers to agents they’ve previously interacted with or an agent with a certain type of expertise. Ultimately, by prioritizing calls, you are saving time and money, and providing enhanced customer service.
Top 3 ways to minimize IVR frustration
We’ve nailed down three reasons IVR can be beneficial to your call center, but we should also provide a few ways to avoid the potential IVR frustrations and fatigue mentioned earlier in this blog. Here are three things to keep in mind when implementing IVR:
Keep your systems up to date
A customer reaches your IVR and is served your business’s product information, except it’s not the latest products. Your recent launch hasn’t been reflected in the system. This is a missed opportunity for product awareness. But more importantly, this can cause customer confusion. In order to keep your customer happy and also streamline conversations, product offerings and services need to be kept up-to-date, across all your customer communications, including IVR.
Put customer experience top-of-mind
Treat IVR as a key part of your customer journey and care. Consider testing out your IVR as a customer, calling in as if you need an issue solved in order to pinpoint frustrations and areas for improvement.
Personalize the experience
Design the IVR experience to know and be relevant for your customers. Design IVR with a variety of customer journeys in mind. For example, as McKinsey explained, “If customers who are normally active on digital channels call a [helpline], they will likely seek a resolution they have been unable to find online. The best course of action in this case might be to pass the call to a human operator as soon as possible.” By setting up IVR to recognize a customer and anticipate their needs, you can find a resolution more quickly, efficiently, and with a positive outcome.
LiveVox is a next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 Billion interactions a year. We seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice to drive performance in your contact center. Our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools help clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise LiveVox is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Our more than 450 global employees are headquartered in San Francisco; with offices in Atlanta, Denver, New York City, St. Louis, Medellin, Colombia, and Bangalore, India.