What Is An IVR?
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. This is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers the information, and routes the call to the right recipient. An IVR system, or IVRs can accept a combination of telephone inputs, and touch tone keypad selection, and can then provide appropriate responses by voice, fax, callback, email and other media as well.
What Are Common IVR Applications?
The IVRs consists of telephony equipment, a database, a supporting infrastructure and various software applications. Common IVR applications include
- Office call routing
- Surveys and Polls
- Call center forwarding
- Simple order entry transactions
- Bank and stock account balances and transfers
- Selective information look up, such as movie schedules
An IVR application allows pre-recorded voice responses to be used for appropriate situations, keypad signal logic, access to relevant data, and the ability to record voice input for later handling. IVR applications can be used to pass a call to an agent, by using CTI, or computer telephony integration. The agent can view any data related to the caller on a display.
What Are The Benefits Of Using An IVR?
Increases first contact resolution
It increases the likelihood of resolving the callers issue on first contact, as it sends the call to the agent or department that it best suited to meeting the callers needs. This means that the agent who answers the call is going to be the most qualified of solving the issue, or answering the question, and is therefore, less likely to need to transfer the call on to another agent or department.
Increases customer service efficiency
The agents who use an IVRs are more adept at resolving specific problems and meeting specific needs of the customers they have been assigned. The result is that they are more efficient, therefore the whole customer service experience is more efficient
Increases agent and overall company efficiency
As agents who work using an IVRs are more equipped to address specific issues, they are less likely to need to consult with colleagues, or a manager, and they are also less likely to need to transfer the call to another agent or department. This means that the agent themselves are more productive and efficient, which plays into the productivity and efficiency of the company overall.
Reduces operational costs
An IVRS essentially replaces a receptionist or the customer service agent who would have answered the call and manually routed it to an appropriate agent. The IVR system is affordable, increases efficiency, and as it is a one time cost, rather than a repeating cost, like wages, it reduces the operational costs of the company. Therefore, the return on investment is huge.
An IVR system can be used to greet customers in a really professional manner, and it can also make it seem like the company has more departments, and is bigger than it actually is. Customers tend to think of companies who use an IVR system as being very professional.
Increases customer satisfaction
As the IVR system is generally easy to use, and reliable, it’s unlikely that the customer will not be routed to an agent who can’t resolve their issues or to the wrong department.
What Does An IVR Let You Do?
Configure a personalized IVR message and unique prompts
An IVR system will allow you to record a customized greeting, messages and prompts. This means that when customers call the company, their experience is more personal.
Use a pre-recorded IVR message
If you prefer, you can use pre-recorded on the IVR system. You can still offer a personal experience, but the pre-recorded messages can add a touch of professionalism.
Collect information about the caller
The IVR system can be used to collect some initial information about the needs of the caller, and transfer the call to the most appropriate agent or department depending on the IVR input. When companies use the technology to directs calls to agents, the likelihood of callers being sent to the wrong agent, or department is significantly reduced.
Automates customer support
IVR systems allow the customer to resolve their own issues as they can obtain the information they need, without actually needing to speak with an agent.
Prioritizes calls based on value
IVR systems can allow you to prioritize high value calls. If a high value customer calls, the IVR will transfer them to the agent who is most qualified to meet their needs and resolve their issues. If all of the agents are busy, the caller will be placed at the front of the queue. This reduces the risk of losing a high value customer due to long call waiting times or poor customer service.
Routes the caller to the right agent or department
IVR systems will transfer the caller to the agent or department that is most qualified to resolve their issues and meet their needs.
Handle high call volumes
The use of IVR systems means that a company is adequately equipped to handle high call volumes. The system transfers callers to the agent or department most qualified to help the caller, or places them in a queue when all the agents are busy on other calls. Some systems will allow the caller to request that the agent returns their call, instead of waiting in a call queue.
Improves the company image
Startups, and SME’s use IVR systems to make the company appear bigger than it actually is. The IVr can be configured to prompt callers to choose which department they wish to speak to, however the call will simply be transferred to the person who is assigned to answer calls. The IVR system does make the company seem more professional.
How An IVR Increases Professionalism
An IVR allows you to have access to your phone system, and its features remotely, so you can be at work even when you aren’t actually at work. The IVR can be set up so that you can call a selected number from any phone, and you will reach a log in with a pin and a personal extension. This will let you access voicemails, join a conference calls, or leave voicemails for your colleagues. You can log in and make a call to any number, and the receiving caller will see the call as coming from the office. This means that you can work anywhere and still seem as though you are in the office, giving you flexibility.
An IVR system can also be used to conduct customer satisfaction surveys, and receive valuable feedback. You can ask the customer some pre-recorded questions, which they can answer by touching the telephone buttons. The information gathered can be stored and fed back to the relevant department. However, the types of IVR systems that can do this are generally bespoke systems and they can be complicated to set up. As the demand for these systems grows, they should become more readily available, and more accessible. IVR automated surveys are a very effective way of gathering feedback, as it does not require staff involvement, and it collects honest and objective feedback from the customers.
An IVR system sounds professional, giving your business an international presence, which can potentially give you an edge over your competitors. It allows a one person company to seem larger and more professional, as you can have a complex menu, giving the customer the option to be transferred to different departments, even if only one person is answering all the calls.
Essentially, a small company of ten employees, or even less, can appear to be a much larger organization. This can make the company seem like a more established business, and therefore a more viable option to potential customers. In the past, these systems were only available to big businesses with large budgets, as the cost of set up, equipment, and staff expertise and training made it cost prohibitive for smaller businesses. However, hosted telephony solutions are now open to all, so smaller businesses have access to, and can take advantage of all the features and benefits of an IVR system.