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October 28, 2020

How to Use Call Center IVR to Boost Your Business?

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IVR systems automate the first interaction between a customer and a call center

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your customer service, you may be asking, what is IVR? You may have heard that it’s an intelligent way to enhance service outcomes and improve the agent experience, all while reducing costs. While all of that is certainly true, there’s more to it than the basic ‘press one for English, two for Spanish,’ IVR systems of the past. 

Today’s IVR can do more than just route customers to a particular department. When you set up an IVR correctly, it can help your customers help themselves, gather intel on their pain points, intelligently predict which resources will best serve them, and help agents do their jobs better. All of this points to an exponentially more positive customer experience not just during one interaction, but for the life of their relationship with your brand. 

With the right goals and execution in implementing a call center IVR system, you can create a much better experience for your customers while providing huge improvements for contact center operations.

So, what is IVR exactly?

IVR software is widely used by call centers to allow customers to interact with a business via phone keypad or speech recognition. IVR systems automate the first interaction between a customer and a call center, gathering information on the reason a customer is calling and routing them to the most appropriate resource. When companies take the time to set up an IVR that’s tailored to their customer’s needs, the result is a self-service tool that can create a higher level of efficiency in contact center operations and improve customer satisfaction. 

There are three different ways a customer can interact with IVR: directed, open-ended and mixed. In directed IVR, the phone system asks customers questions and then prompts them to choose from a specific set of answers. Open-ended IVR asks customers questions and leaves an opening for them to respond via voice in whatever way they choose. Mixed IVR combines a little bit of both, tailoring each question based on the type of answer needed.
An effective call center IVR is beneficial to both customers and call center agents. On the customer’s side, IVR gets them to the resource that’s most likely to solve their problem the fastest, whether that’s a specific piece of information, a self-service tool, or a live agent. On the agent’s side, IVR helps automate manual tasks like account verification while deflecting calls that can be self-serviced, freeing up agents to focus their efforts where they make the biggest impact.

What is an IVR system?

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 fewer 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 costs.  

Customer service

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.

Call prioritization
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, a 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.

Customers still want to contact you by phone and your IVR system needs to make a good impression.

Businesses that utilize IVR & the benefits of IVR

Financial institutions

The financial industry is characterized by large firms with lots of different departments, from personal banking to corporate finance to investing. An IVR system can help manage the large volume of calls for this diverse set of departments, getting callers where they need to go quickly and allowing agents to work with calls that are within their particular skill set. The finance industry also lends itself to loads of self-service options that can be executed by IVR, like balance checks, transaction history, bill payments and more. 

Telecommunications

The telecom industry receives incoming calls on a wide range of topics, from technical support requests to new account openings. Many of these, including new service setups and disconnects, can be nearly or entirely automated with an IVR phone system. This greatly reduces call volume and frees up agents to deal with more complex support inquiries.

Travel & tourism

The tourism industry is especially susceptible to spikes in volume during busy hours and peak travel dates. IVR can help manage these fluctuations in volume, easing customer frustration with useful self-service tools and offering convenient options like the ability to request a call back to keep callers from waiting on hold endlessly.  

Retail

Retail is another industry that holds great potential for automating incoming support requests. With a call center IVR system, customers can check their order status, find out about shipping timelines, learn a company’s return policy, and more, all without ever speaking to an agent.  

Food and beverage

Though workers in restaurants and bars don’t usually spend a lot of time on the phone, their companies do receive a large number of calls. Most of these are from customers looking for simple pieces of information that can be delivered via IVR, like the establishment’s hours, menu or where to find the online reservation system. 

How to make An IVR system that works for every customer

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. Companies should focus on perfecting how to make an IVR system that serves every customer, not just a select few. 

With that in mind, here are three necessities 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 product. 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. 

Customers overwhelmingly want an omnichannel experience

In a HubSpot survey, customers named a whopping 13 channels on which they want to be able to communicate with brands. Email, phone, live chat, and website were the top responses, with a large amount of overlap among customers citing multiple channels. The bottom line–customers don’t want to be forced onto any one channel when they need to reach you. They want to use the one that’s most convenient for them at that specific moment in time. An IVR system helps facilitate a seamless experience that can transition between channels as needed. 

Machines get better at predicting intent

One of the biggest failures of IVR systems is that they’re too complex–they make the customer go through multiple rounds of choices to discern what the call is actually about. Conversational IVR is using natural language processing (NLP) to better understand customer intentions and minimize the number of hoops they have to jump through to get to their destination. Take, for example, a big weather event that’s disrupting shipments from getting where they’re going. If a call comes in from a customer with an order in the affected area, conversational IVR coupled with NLP can predict that they’re probably calling to find out how the storm is affecting their shipment. With this knowledge, they can be routed much faster to a status update rather than making them choose from a list of options, enter their order number, and so on. 

Visual IVR offers exciting new CX possibilities

A new realm of IVR capitalizes on the devices most of us have with us everywhere we go: our smartphones. Instead of listening to a list of choices on a phone call, the customer can receive the choices visually on their smartphone. This combination of speech and on-screen interactions takes the omnichannel experience to a new level and most brands are just beginning to experiment with it, but we’re excited about the options it opens up. 

How LiveVox can help enhance your IVR service

LiveVox offers an IVR solution that helps businesses optimize customer journeys, increase first call resolutions, and enhance overall experiences. 

LiveVox is a next-generation cloud 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. From optimizing the performance of work-from-home agents to personalizing the customer journey at every touchpoint, we help businesses get more out of every one of their communications channels while simultaneously mitigating risk. 

Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice, including phone, text, live chat, email, and social. An integrated CRM facilitates customization at scale, with dynamic scripting for more personal conversations and AI capabilities for faster, more effective service. 

LiveVox’s battle-tested risk mitigation tools help clients maximize their potential and remain compliant in an ever-changing business environment. Our approach strikes a careful balance between innovation and security, empowering companies to protect their customers and themselves while staying on the cutting edge of technology. 
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. Learn more about LiveVox’s values and how our cloud contact center platform can benefit your business here.

What is an IVR call system?

IVR stands for interactive voice response. It’s an automated system for receiving incoming calls that help companies manage call volume and better serve customers.

What are the types of IVR systems?

There are three different types of IVR systems: directed, open-ended and mixed. In a directed IVR system, customers are prompted to choose from a specific set of answers. Open-ended IVR asks a question and allows the customer to respond via voice. Mixed IVR combines both options based on the type of response required.

How will IVR enhance my business?

IVR offers convenient self-service options for simple queries like checking a balance or paying a bill, which facilitates quick interactions that customers love. By empowering customers to self-serve, companies can reduce their dependence on live agents and in turn, reduce staffing costs.

What are the features of the IVR system?

Here are some of the most important features of an IVR system:
– Intelligent call routing
– Self-service options
– Drag-and-drop design
– CRM integration
– Omnichannel capabilities
– AI-enabled

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About LiveVox

LiveVox (Nasdaq: LVOX) is a next generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion omnichannel interactions a year. By seamlessly unifying blended omnichannel communications, CRM, AI, and WEM capabilities, the Company’s technology delivers exceptional agent and customer experiences, while helping to mitigate compliance risk. With 20 years of cloud experience and expertise, LiveVox’s CCaaS 2.0 platform is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. The Company has more than 650 global employees and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Atlanta; Columbus; Denver; New York City; St. Louis; Medellin, Colombia; and Bangalore, India. To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox or visit livevox.com.

To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox, visit www.livevox.com or call one of our specialists at (844) 207-6663.

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