The benefits of IVR for contact centers include better service, increased errand capacity, increased availability, saved resources and better conditions for your agents.
However, before we go into details of the different benefits, we’ll start with an explanation of what IVR is.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is a technology that allows customers to quickly get in touch with the correct department or agent. Usually, this is done through the number pad on your phone but can also be done by voice response.
An IVR-flow can be very simple, with just a few options. It can also be very complex, depending on your organization and its needs. A simpler IVR-flow can be along the lines of ”For customer service, press 1. For sales, press 2.”
You can also create an IVR-flow with many more options, and when the first choice is made there is another layer of alternatives.
The purpose of IVR is to steer conversations efficiently. IVR helps the customer reach agent who can solve their specific need. By utilizing IVR with your contact center you also gather valuable data about the customer, such as how many incoming errands are in regard to invoicing and how many are in regard to their subscription.
A risk with IVR is creating frustration with the customer service experience. This can occur if it is not clear where the client will be connected or which option they should choose. There are also those who do not appreciate self-service systems, who prefer communication directly with a customer service agent. It is therefore important to always offer the option of reaching an agent, even when offering self-service.
IVR has changed from being solely choice controlled by number pad to involving multiple functions, such as voice control, identity verification, call-back etc. Your IVR can be available around the clock and guide your customers to solutions even when customer service is closed. Through automated messages you can inform your customers if for example there are widespread delays, which in turn can save some incoming errands the next day.
If the customer’s problem can be solved effectively, they are more likely to be loyal to your company.
By using a voice response system, you can offer a customized customer service experience. Instead of your customer calling in, telling an agent their story, being passed on to the next agent and having to explain everything from the beginning, you can make sure that the customer ends up with the right agent from the start. Agents are often specialized within your organization and customers who are funneled between several people are often more dissatisfied. An IVR can help reduce cases that end up in the wrong place.
If you also utilize self-service, the customer can often solve their problem on their own, which saves time for both you and the customer.
A common fear is that an IVR is perceived as impersonal. However, it is an advantage for the customer not to have to tell several people about their case before they get to the right place. Immediately connecting with an agent who has the knowledge and authority to handle their case will provide a better customer service experience. Receiving faster help also contributes to a more positive service experience.
Implementing IVR not only means better service, but also an increased capacity for handling errands. Many responses can be automated so that customers receive information without speaking to an agent. This may apply, for example, to questions about opening hours, invoicing information, information that all deliveries are delayed by a week or a guided voice that informs you how to solve a common issue. This frees up more time for your agents so they can focus on the customers who really need to get in direct contact with you.
Even if you use IVR for your contact center, it is important that customers should always be able to speak to an agent if needed. Some problems cannot be solved with an IVR and some people need the reassurance of talking to another human being. IVR should help to optimize incoming calls, it should not replace all contact.
IVR for contact centers gives you the opportunity to be available 24/7, which in turn improves the service experience. Customers can receive information and basic assistance regardless of the time of day or what day of the week, and during your opening hours they can reach a customer service agent who has the authority and knowledge to help them.
Being able to get answers to common questions, even late at night or on bank holidays days is appreciated by many. You being available when customers need help also contributes to creating trust and showing that your company is reliable. Something that contributes to customer loyalty. It is beneficial for customers to be able to call in at their convenience.
Simpler questions are largely filtered out when customers are assisted by automated responses. The agents also know that the customers who reach them most likely has reached the right person, and that they really need help from them. As the errand volumes decrease, there is more time to help the customers who need to speak to customer service agents, without feeling the same pressure of calls waiting and long queue times.
Through IVR, you also have the opportunity to collect valuable and relevant information before the customer reaches the agent. This could be an invoice number, a social security number, verification of identity, an order number, what the case is about and so on. You can simply make sure that you have the customer card ready and know roughly what the customer needs help with. This saves time and frustration for everyone involved.
We have now emphasized how IVR saves both time, money and energy. The agents receive information about the customer before the call starts and save time in verifying that they are speaking to the right person. With a decreased amount of incoming errands, you can also handle larger volumes with the current staffing.
Today, voice response systems can also offer functionality such as call back, which can reduce the number of dropped calls. Customers don’t always have the patience to sit in long telephone queues and you risk missed calls. With callback, customers don’t have to sit and wait, but are called back when it’s their turn.
Customer service is an integral part of your operations. Your customer service agents are the ones in contact with dissatisfied customers and are the ones with the means and opportunity to turn them into satisfied customers. Investing in an IVR for your contact center can save both time and money as well as increase customer satisfaction. An IVR will also provide better conditions for your agents and will lead to better results and happier employees.
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