A shoutout to IVR: Let interactive voice response systems boost your business

Modern business is about being organized and creating the right impressions. The better your customer-facing processes are, the better your business’s brand image becomes. It’s not only about all the operations going at the backend of your business, but also a lot about the frontend. Communication is right there at the top of the list of business functions that create impressions and shape your brand image. It’s the basis of customer service. So, the better your communication mechanisms, the better your brand. That’s why interactive voice response (IVR) is such an important technology for businesses.

Here’s how IVR systems boost your business’ communication capabilities.

Super-quick and always-on self-service

It’s not always that customers want to engage in lengthy conversations with your helpdesk personnel. Most of the times, customers want a very specific piece of information. Interactive voice response systems can give them their answers in the speediest manner. What’s more, because your IVR system works 24/7, your customers get the convenience of calling anytime and getting served.

Businesses, however, need to deliberate carefully about the kind of information they can and should deliver without requiring a human service person on the call. IVR systems can also authenticate callers by matching details such as their phone numbers, card numbers, membership numbers, birth date, etc. with a database. This allows businesses to confidently use IVRs to share information such as product pricing, customer credit limits, delivery status, complaint status, and more.

Better call routing for faster first-time resolution rates

IVR systems
Flickr /Dave Gray

What’s most impressive for a customer who calls your business for a service request or a complaint? Getting super-fast first-time resolution. How do businesses ensure this? By making sure that the request goes to the right team as soon as possible.

IVRs have a tremendous role to play here. These systems can be configured to offer the customer a vast range of options. Most of the times, customers know which team they want to connect with, and hence, this approach significantly improves the first-time resolution rates for your business’ customer service. The impact on customer experience is huge.

What’s more, the routing mechanism improves with time, as your business learns from cases where a call is routed more than once to reach the right team. Remember, IVRs mean faster first-time resolutions. And, faster first-time resolutions mean happier customers.

No more lost leads

Telephone calls continue to be a crucial channel for prospects to begin engagement with businesses. In a traditional customer call center, it’s a normal event for calls to be dropped, for customers to hang up, and for customer service representatives to fail to offer the right information. The end result — your business loses a lead.

IVRs can make life easier. These systems are capable of maintaining logs of all calls that end without the ideal closure mechanism. Because calls are recorded, any helpdesk executive can prepare a list of potentially lost leads and share with the team for follow up.

Advanced IVR systems take the game a step ahead. These systems encourage customers to key in a request for call-back if they choose to. If customer service representative are too busy, the query is too complex, or the customer simply insists on only talking to a human, IVRs have you covered, with the call-back request feature.

Prioritize calls for better customer service


Businesses always work with constraints. Obviously, businesses need to prioritize to drive the maximum ROIs from resources and to clock high scores on process KPIs. You don’t want to miss out on delighting your high-value customers, answering high potential leads, and solving client problems that can quickly escalate.

IVRs are of immense value in enabling businesses to prioritize their customer support tasks. By offering emergency-response and revenue-related interaction options upfront, IVRs make sure that important conversations proceed without any delay. Also, IVRs log every call, which means that CSR teams can evaluate and analyze them to find out the kinds of calls made most frequently, allocating more resources to relevant teams.

Better load handling

A basic call for information, such as to understand shipment status, vs. a call to understand the product portfolio of your business — the time a CSR needs to spend is vastly different. So, ideal work distribution in your customer service team must be done dynamically, based on the nature of the call.

Interactive voice response is a robust solution. These systems can assign predictive scores to calls based on the anticipated time for closure. The calls are then routed to different support personnel based on their total score of all calls lined up in the queue. The result — equal work distribution, better employee satisfaction, and healthy team dynamics.

All this said and done, realize that IVRs are not a magic wand. If your business doesn’t use IVRs judiciously, they could create a void between the customer and your service personnel. To make IVRs the superstars of your support teams, look for vendors that follow these best practices:

  • Always tell the caller the button they need to press to connect with a service person.
  • Offer important information (such as your business’ work hours, your website, etc.) upfront.
  • Keep the most important options on top of the options menu.
  • Review IVR practices every quarter, with focus on how you can improve things.
  • Never expect the customer to go beyond three menus to find the information they want.
  • Always keep the customer informed of what’s happening (for instance, during long pauses and invalid inputs).
  • Integrate the IVR with customer relationship management (CRM) systems to know more about the caller, and to personalize the greeting message, menu options, language, etc.
  • Look for vendors whose IVRs use speech recognition apart from touch controls; that’s the direction the IVR universe is expanding in.
  • Offer neatly organized information to support personnel to whom the IVR routes the call so that they don’t have to ask for the same information again.

Take advantage of IVR systems

Today, IVRs are highly configurable, and hence, the value they can deliver to a business is immense. It’s the best foot forward for businesses looking to automate, optimize, and prioritize customer conversations.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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