IVR: Interactive Voice Response
How many times have you called a customer service contact center number and had to listen to an automated voice tell you how to arrive at the solution you need? There are even times you’re your query can be resolved without having to speak to a human agent at all. If your company is experiencing higher call volumes that seem to overwhelm your call center staff, Interactive Voice Response is a great option for you. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a new technology created for contact centers that are designed to greet and direct callers based on their needs. Continue reading to learn everything have to know about Interactive Voice Response technology and understand if Interactive Voice Response is a feature that your contact center can benefit from.
What is an Interactive Voice Response System?
Interactive Voice Response is an automated phone system that lets incoming callers pre-recorded messages without having to interact with an agent using a Voice Response system. Most Interactive Voice Response systems come equipped with the option for a caller to use menu options using the phone keypad or using speech recognition to connect their calls to the relevant parties.
Interactive Voice Responses can be customized beyond the voice though, as you can program them to use an array of voice input/output and touch-tone keypad selections based on the prompts of your choosing. Response options available with Interactive Voice Response include voice, fax, callback, email, and other types of media.
Interactive Voice Response technology has become increasingly popular within specific verticals, especially telephone banking, telephone-based voting systems, credit card company services, travel company flight confirmation services, mobile phone Pay As You Go top-up services, phone-based dating services, phone polling services that handle large call volume like American Idol, and more. IVR is also commonly used by small companies, in order to enhance their appearance with the professional tone of the service by looking larger than they are.
Also, companies that require 24/7 phone support but don't want to pay 24/7 staff requirements find the feature incredibly useful. While Interactive Voice Response is most popular within certain verticals many different companies use the technology in order to save on contact center staff.
Common tasks of Interactive Voice Response systems include:
- Simple order entry
- Outbound routine calling (example: scheduled dentist appointment)
- Simple banking and stock transfers and account balances
- Contact center forwarding
- Survey and polling
- Detailed call routing
- Selective information lookup for movie schedules, name directories, etc.
The major components of any Interactive Voice Response system are telephony equipment, a software application(s), and database(s). The combination of these three elements allows the telephone system to interact with the database via software that recognizes user commands via voice prompts and touch-tone keypad prompts.
Interactive Voice Response systems are designed to handle a large call volume, which gives the technology a higher return on investment as opposed to staffing multiple contact center operators.
History of IVR
Interactive Voice Response has been around since the 70s and is often used as an umbrella term that catches Interactive Voice Response systems, automated attendants, and Voice Response Units. Now while the technology has been around since the 70s, it has come a long way; previously Interactive Voice Response systems were out of reach for the average company and were only used by large corporations. The technology has improved its features and been brought down in price enough that even small to medium-sized companies are using the feature within their customer contact centers.
One of the more famous Interactive Voice Responses is Emily, the IVR for Bell, a huge communications provider. Emily was created to be the IVR for Bell as the company chose to put a human voice to the face of their company—instead of the alternative Stephan Hawking-like voice.
Call center features available with an Interactive Voice Response system
The following are features that an Interactive Voice Response system can help you streamline in your contact center.
- Automatic call distribution: directly connects a customer service call with call agents
- Skill-based routing: assigning the most suitable agent to handle a customer service inquiry based on a caller’s tone of voice and specific query type.
- Time-based routing: if your company is operating in multiple time zones and require you to run a contact center 24/7 Interactive Voice Response is a great option. Using an Interactive Voice Response system, a customer is able to assist themselves at any time of the day, any day of the week.
- Call queues: allowing calls to be connected to the next available agent based on the order in which they were received.
- Callback number: an Interactive Voice Response can ask customer service callers to leave their number to schedule a callback. This is a useful feature when there aren’t enough call center agents to attend to all the calls that your contact center may receive.
Benefits of Interactive Voice Response
- Better customer service: Interactive Voice Response allows your customers to have a seamless experience when calling in for customer service queries that don’t require to be handled by an agent.
- Unlimited customer access: Interactive Voice Response allows customers to call and have access to quality customer service at any time despite it being a holiday or after hours.
- Wider personalization: using your CRM, you can create personalized greetings for known contacts to make for a better customer service experience. Interactive Voice Response can also facilitate multiple languages to make for an inclusive call center experience.
- Increase productivity: Interactive Voice Response allows your customers to route themselves to the relevant departments without having to wait to reach an agent and then be transferred. The call routing feature of Interactive Voice Response can all agents prioritize calls based on urgency and this can result in a better first call resolution rate for your contact center.
- Higher profits: using an Interactive Voice Response, you can reduce redundancies in your company’s contact center management. You will no longer have to have a call agent that merely directs the calls to the right extension number, instead, the customers can connect themselves to the right party using Interactive Voice Response technology.
Customers are more likely to be loyal to your product and brand if they feel as if their needs are met well. An Interactive Voice Response can increase this feeling in your customers because of the ease of service and thus, have a better customer service experience when using your contact center. Consider using Interactive Voice Response to improve your contact center’s customer satisfaction ratings!