If you have ever called customer service or toll-free number, you have probably interacted with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. As an automated system it enables callers to find information or get answers to their questions without speaking directly to customer service representative. Think of it as a self-service portal that is controlled by a logically programmed phone system.
IVR delivers a host of benefits to businesses and have been in use for decades. During the 1990s, IVRs became more intelligent when businesses started integrating computer telephony integrations with IVR systems to make them capable of handling complex customer queries. Today, from handling holiday season traffic to automating responses to repetitive queries, IVR systems have become the go-to technology for businesses who want to provide great customer service.
Here are four ways an IVR system can improve customer service:
First contact resolution or FCR exhibits the efficiency of a contact center to address customer queries in the first contact. The higher the contact center’s FCR, the better the contact center’s efficiency. An IVR can help maximize FCR by helping customers pick the right menus and submenus that host information to their questions.
Here is an example:
Let’s say you want to look up your last five credit card transactions. When you call your bank’s customer care number, you will be asked to authenticate your identity. Once the authentication is complete, the IVR system will give options related to all services including credit cards. When you select the main menu pertaining to credit cards, you will be presented with options like:
Pressing 2 on your keypad will give you the details of your last 5 transactions as a voice over message or as a text message on your registered phone number. Since IVR systems are connected to the bank’s database on a real-time basis, the information you get will also be updated and accurate. You get accurate, real-time information without having to talk to a representative on your first contact with the banking institution.
Customer care is not a 9-to-5 proposition. Customers expect brands to be up and running providing 24-7 support. But agents are not machines. They need breaks. They work only during specific hours and there are laws in place to govern maximum working hours and conditions.
Fortunately, IVR systems are not bound by such regulations. They are programs that can run forever without downtime. Recesses, holidays and business hours do not apply to them.
As a customer-centric business you will be able to provide support even after business hours. If a customer call comes in 12 AM, an IVR system can attend to it and provide instant support. If the caller wants further information that the IVR cannot provide, the system can direct the caller to leave a voicemail that an agent can attend to when working hours resume.
In any contact center, a wide majority of inbound calls pertain to low-value and repetitive questions. These types of inquiries can be effectively addressed by an IVR system which will free up agents for high priority and complex scenario calls that require expert intervention.
According to Forrester, “77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.” No caller likes going around in loops until they reach the right agent who can provide expert advice. Without IVR, routing customers to the right agent who possesses the know-how to resolve the issue would be difficult. IVR helps segment calls based on the customer’s need and directs calls to the agents who are trained to handle them.
For instance, for a multi-national corporation, an IVR can segment calls based on the choice of language of the caller and direct it to an agent who can speak the chosen language. This creates a win-win situation for both the user and the business.
IVR systems were introduced for a reason. They were devised to cut down the average call handling time of a contact center. Until IVRs became mainstream, agents had to attend to all sorts of calls, including simple FAQs. This proved to be detrimental to the efficiency of the agent as well as the contact center.
With IVR it is possible to automate responses to FAQs. It spares the agent’s time and attention for calls that require expert intervention. In the process, they also deliver great customer service which, in turn, helps businesses retain customers.
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