Even if you don’t know what Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is, you’ve used it in your daily life. If you’ve ever been on the phone with a company and been in an automated menu system that responded to your voice, you’ve used IVR.
The big news these days is the use of IVR in call centers. Large companies and service-oriented organizations can receive thousands of calls each day into their call centers. This is the lifeblood of their business. Using automation to handle these calls reduces a large staff investment, and helps to increase the company’s profit margin.
IVR technology has increased dramatically in the last few years. Back in the day, you needed to speak slowly and clearly in order for the system to understand you. If you were speaking your credit card number, it might have taken multiple entries in order for the system to recognize it correctly. Today, you can speak rapidly and the system will recognize what you’re saying to it.
This isn’t the only example of IVR improving, though. Today, IVRs have more natural speech patterns and far more capabilities. Once upon a time, callers only had specific choices they could choose from when working with an IVR, and the IVR only understood specific phrases. That’s not so any more. Today, callers can speak normally and converse with the IVR. The IVR can ask a customer what they need assistance with, the caller can respond with a normal answer, and the IVR will direct the call as needed.
Going beyond question and answer type scenarios, IVRs today can handle advanced functions as well. An example of this is bill payments. By operating in a natural and conversational manner, the IVR can handle the functions of a call agent for all but the most involved issues.
Call centers today can now reduce their staff to a handful of agents to take care of the most difficult calls. Everything else can be handled by IVRs. Customers can call directly through, not have to wait for an agent, and take care of most everything they need.
The best news for call centers configured with a good IVR? Customers actually prefer the IVR over working with a human agent.
The future has arrived. Is your call center onboard?