Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

1. What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated telephony system technology that communicates with callers, collects the necessary information and in particular, guides calls to the right recipient.

With modern advanced IVR devices, voice recognition, feedback, and answers can be obtained by spoken words. Conversations are either pre-recorded or generated audio that automatically supports, guides, or route calls without a live operator.

Among these experiences, clients may use either the set of touch-tone keypad or voice telephone input to communicate. The answers take the form of speech, call-back, or some other media connected to them.

2. What can an IVR do?

A well-designed IVR software system can help boost customer loyalty and increase the operations and KPI’s of contact centers. An efficient interactive voice response system can help prevent holding time, especially during periods of high call volume, by helping customers find answers and perform simple tasks themselves. IVR technology can help direct calls easily and seamlessly to the right call center representative in situations where a customer wants or demands to talk to an individual to answer their question. 

3. How Does an IVR Work?

These interactive solutions operate in a way that allows the end-user to access the contact center and easily find an acceptable solution, using just the keypad of their phone.  This ensures the customers themselves direct calls to suitable agents from your team. Overall, for the team members, this results in fewer incoming calls, reduced running costs, and improved efficiency.

From a technical perspective, the IVR system consists of the following: telephony facilities, software applications, a database, and the support infrastructure. The machine is connected to the telephone line of the company, to begin with.

It is important to install IVR software on a device, and it requires a special piece of hardware called a telephony board, or telephony card. The IVR program will reply when you make a call to the company as a customer by giving you a pre-recorded greeting and then asking you to select a choice from a set menu.

For instance, you will receive a given service by pressing a given number on the keyboard.

Here are a few specifics explaining the specifications:

TCP/IP network: This is the network used to provide access to the Internet and the intranet.

Databases: Information in real-time that can be accessed by IVR applications.

Web/application server: This can be used as the home of applications for the Interactive Voice Response system. One thing to remember is that there are many different applications built for different tasks to be performed.

4. What are the advantages of Interactive Voice Response?

A list of the benefits of implementing modern IVR capabilities is listed below:

(i) Better Support for Customers

A client may believe that he or she is being better cared for by using the IVR programs. For every query that a client might have, there is always a quick answer available. The answer is time-efficient and insightful, and all you have to do is follow the instructions from the set menu.

This means responding to a call on the first ring, reducing customer waiting time, and reducing the frequency of calls, saving both the customer and the company time.

(ii) Unlimited Customer Access

At any time of their comfort, customers can make use of the IVR systems as it performs its role 7 days a week 24 hours a day. Even though working hours, holidays, and breaks determine and restrict the availability of staff, IVR systems are still at the discretion of the client.

This then implies that if the customer can avail/ receive any or all the services. Although the option of getting a live representative can still appeal to others, consumers could have unrestricted access to the company with the aid of an IVR device.

(iii) Wider Personalization

IVR systems allow tremendous personalization that helps build a better customer relationship. It is possible to change and program each IVR system with customized greetings for known callers. This is possible because there is information available about the customer or their caller ID.

Besides referring to a caller by their name, any additional information related to them can be recognized and communicated by the device. This may mean wishing a caller on their marriage anniversary, or some other significant event.

IVR systems come with many language choices that are customized as per individual customers or callers, in addition to programming caller information. In this case, in the long run, it will make the client feel more secure. Any personalized greeting he or she may like can also be registered and the necessary prompts can be included to route callers to the corresponding department.

(iv) Create a Better Company Image

The IVR works on the idea that your business is so huge; your call volume could not possibly be handled by a receptionist. As for smaller businesses, it is highly recommended that they have an automated system to create a better image of their company.

As for bigger businesses, by ensuring continuity in customer service and call volume, these programs encourage a professional image.

(v) More Profits to the Company

A substantial portion of business deals and transactions are rapidly taking place over the internet. With the conventional way of getting receptionists who respond to customer calls, some of the businesses were lagging behind.

IVR has virtual receptionists and saves a lot of time, using the employer's money in a better way when meeting and satisfying the needs of the customer. Because even under high volume calls, the IVR solution will run 24 hours, and profits will skyrocket.

(vi) Increased Production

This is possible by call routing. Routing callers to discuss their needs to individual departments or staff members means that less time is spent conferring with colleagues to find the correct response or transferring the caller before they get what they need. In turn, this helps business owners to prioritize calls and thus improve overall performance.

With the IVR systems and without long call wait times or even overwhelmed receptionists, the company will attend to a high volume of calls. This suggests that consumers are going to raise their call frequency.

(vii) Error Free

Compared to relying on a conventional receptionist, using an IVR makes the whole process less vulnerable to errors. They would prove to be a nuisance to a receptionist with a high number of calls.

As a consequence, in addition to the long waiting period, hundreds of calls end up in the wrong place. Therefore, one will appreciate this additional advantage with the IVR auto attendant.

Some of the advantages that IVR does not forget to recognize include, among others, customer service managers, customer experience managers, VP's, and contact center managers.

5. What are some of the applications of IVR?

  • Call center forwarding.
  • Office calls routing.
  • Bank and stock account balances and transfers.
  • Surveys and polls.

Here are some real-life applications that can benefit your business:

Improved Customer Experience Through an Integrated IVR

Consumer experience is the understanding of every part of the company by the customer of their objectives, physical, mental, subconscious, and psychological relationship they have for the company/brand. You need to consider managing the customer's experience effectively to support the growth of your company. It is achieved primarily by automation, and that's the reason why IVR technology has to be considered.

This, in the long run, would create trust and put a smile on the face of the customer.

In the collection of answers from your clients, it is also possible to use the IVR method and encourage two-way dialogues. Lastly, for particular purposes, you can build personalized IVR applications. This will allow consumers to have easy access to the right data.

Call Center IVR

Call centers will enjoy improved first touch resolution of customer complaints and inquiries through IVR services. A client may either select self-service or call an inquiry agent. This will even boost the experience of the user, as they will all use the same cloud IVR GUI.

There will be a callback for clients that are not in the position to wait in a call queue. Also, depending on the desired time of the customer, a scheduled call back service is possible within the IVR phone system.

As a brief overview, the following are the four key ways IVR leads to enhancing the call center customer experience.

(i) Efficient Call Routing

IVR technology's built-in call control features initially collect the caller's information. This is then accompanied by routing the call to steps of self-service or to the rep of the call center who will deal with the problem accordingly. As a result, with a well-designed IVR, the holding time will decrease significantly. The level of service and impressive reaction time of an IVR would please all customers at the end of the day.

(ii) Automated Self-Service

Self-service serves as one of the core pillars of customer service enhancement. This means cutting down the long music slots which play during the wait time, through this, the customer will receive the service required more quickly. Self-service is feasible at any time of the day so a client can ask questions at his or her convenience. Customers can also enjoy the basic choices available on the menu.

(iii) Advanced Speech Recognition

IVR recognizes more than just a single phrase. The caller may use voice prompts to clarify the issue he or she has or the type of service needed, and to get a fast and quick answer to his or her problem. In combination with the directed speech and pushbutton, the IVR platform can direct inbound calls in an optimized manner.

(iv) Personalized Caller Information

A well-designed IVR functions in the same way as a well-trained call center agent, or even in a more efficient manner. Also, the consumer can learn about any promotional deals or upcoming sales through the use of IVR. Finally, it can address the client’s specific potential needs, improving customer satisfaction.

6. How is IVR Systems Assisting Customers and Live Agents?

Interactive Voice Response assists both the agents managing incoming phone calls and the contact center callers. Calls can be intelligently redirected to the best agent for the job as incoming callers navigate a telephone menu. This decreases the annoyance of a caller by not asking them to slog through several customer service levels while freeing up live agents to manage specialized complaints and duties.
However, IVR is not used solely to classify help for sales representatives. In conjunction with text-to-speech, IVR ensures that certain callers can find the appropriate details without having to speak to an agent: think of account balances, schedules, or instructional messages. Besides, an intelligent phone tree will route callers to department voicemail for departments that do not have personal experience 24/7 and guarantee a callback during work hours.

7. Tips and Best Practices to Improve Your IVR

  1. Study the audience to find optimizations for IVR platforms - This includes deciding the clients who are likely to use the automation. You can take this into account when you create your persona.
  2. Recognition of natural language speech for your voice response device - You need to verify the possibility that recognition of natural language expression offers touchtone-based IVR. To help the organization automate several transactions, speech recognition is essential instead of touch-tone interaction. This allows more versatile and complex applications to be introduced.
  3. Maintain a simple IVR menu - Keep menu choices to four or less for call steering, and have no more than two option tiers. Start with the simplest, high volume services and build up from there in the case of self-service applications. Don't attempt to automate complex transactions, but move these calls on to an agent instead.
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