Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

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Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

What is Interactive Voice Response?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated phone system technology that allows incoming callers to access information via a voice response system of pre-recorded messages without having to speak to an agent, as well as to utilize menu options via touch-tone keypad selection or speech recognition to have their call routed to specific departments or specialists.

A well-designed IVR software system can help increase customer satisfaction and improve contact center operations and KPIs. Particularly during times of high call volume, an effective interactive voice response system can help avoid hold time by helping customers find answers and perform simple tasks themselves. In cases where a customer needs or requests to speak with a person, IVR technology can help route calls quickly and seamlessly to the best call center agent to address their inquiry.

Source: CallHippo

How does Interactive Voice Response work?

Even the most basic IVR solution saves time and money by trimming hold times and requiring less workforce. That said, more advanced systems deliver an even better experience for the customer.

1. Basic IVR Systems

There are two primary components of IVRs that enable the computer to understand and process the caller’s requests. One is voice recognition technology, and the other is called Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signaling (or DTMF).

DTMF signaling occurs between the phone and the computer when callers use the keypad on their phone to select menu options. This touch-tone technology allows intelligent call routing to take place without a human operator.

2. Advanced IVR Systems

As IVR technology develops, advanced systems make the customer’s IVR interactions increasingly more natural, faster, and more enjoyable. Among the most customer-friendly advancements is in Natural Language Processing software (or NLP), which is a form of conversational AI.

Thanks to this sophisticated voice recognition technology, the computer can understand and process full sentences rather than limiting the caller’s word choice by recognizing only particular commands. An IVR with built-in NLP can answer open-ended questions such as “what can we help you with today?”

As you can imagine, callers appreciate this conversational approach to customer service because it gives them more freedom. It’s also a much faster way to navigate the IVR because callers can get to the point right away.

For the end-user, these interactive systems function in a way that allows them to navigate your contact center and find an appropriate solution quickly. As a customer, when you make a call to the company, the IVR system will respond by giving you a pre-recorded greeting and asking you to choose an option from a set menu. For example: By pressing the “one” on the keypad, you will receive a given service.

For your team, this means customers can route their calls to appropriate parties. Overall, this results in fewer incoming calls, lower operational costs, and increased productivity for your team members.

Why do Businesses need Interactive Voice Response?

Traditionally, customers seek assistance from customer service specialists in person (like when visiting Apple’s Genius Bar) or over the phone by calling a dedicated customer support number. 

But with the advent of new technologies like Interactive Voice Response systems and the increasing prevalence of online support resources, such as FAQs or live chat options on a company website, customers can rely less on these personal interactions and more on self-service. 

The shift toward using digital sources first instead of traditional call centers means that companies should prioritize digital transformation initiatives to stay relevant.

So what does this mean for businesses?

When you deal with a lot of inbound calls, the flow and timeliness of service are important for your customers. That’s exactly what Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can bring to the table. Call centers can operate more smoothly with IVR, as customer support agents reduce the time they spend routing calls and can instead focus on solving customer issues. 

Simply put: An IVR helps agents triage customer needs. They’re able to prioritize calls based on clients whose concerns are urgent or can be solved quickly. This makes resolution times faster and improves the customer experience

What are the benefits of Interactive Voice Response?

1. Delights Customers

By automatically routing a call to the right agent at the right time, your customer support process will naturally make customers happier and be more efficient. With a smartly designed speech-driven phone menu, an IVR system can route your callers to the most qualified agent. Today, voice response systems are being used for retail orders, bill notifications, appointment reminders, even reserving a table at your favorite restaurant — all done without involving a live agent.

2. Saves Time for Everyone

Customers have a need for speed. In fact, Gartner predicts that this customer preference for independence and self-service automation will likely rise to 85% by 2020. They want questions answered and product information delivered fast. An IVR system with custom-built menus can expedite incoming calls, accurately route callers, or even schedule a call back. By enabling callers to easily respond to options by voice or touchpad, they can quickly get to the information they’re looking for or have their issue escalated to an agent, if necessary. Also, with an IVR backed with unlimited incoming calls, calls never go unanswered.

3. Reduces Costs

A recent study found that when compared to live chat at $5 per contact, or telephone-based customer service that ranges from $6 to over $12 per contact, an IVR can cost less than $1 per contact and make customers happier. That’s real cost savings. Not only do businesses save on personnel, but productivity is also increased because staff can focus on resolving real issues or making sales to qualified buyers.

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