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In Don’t Blame the Technology, I refute a Guardian newspaper article that blames automated voice applications for long waits on hold.

In the Guardian article, the writer vilifies companies that use automated voice applications as receptionists that put customers on hold while they wait for a call center agent. What the article misses is that this situation is the result of poor technology use by the company, not a problem with the technology itself. Utilizing call automation in conjunction with other strategies means there’s no need to put anyone on hold, ever.

Modern contact center technology has the capability to be much more sophisticated than a virtual receptionist. It can automate a company’s most frequent and repetitive calls instead of leaving callers on hold to speak with, more expensive, live agents.

Here are 5 tools businesses can use to avoid putting their customers on hold:

1—Call Analytics

Inefficient systems give IVR a bad name. They put callers on hold, make them wait through lengthy call menus, confuse them with faulty menu logic, and much more.

Call analytics enable you to make our voice apps user-friendly and efficient. Highlighting problem areas, like where in the process callers are hanging up or requesting transfers to live agents. You can A/B test menu options and scripts to determine the most commonly used call paths and which prompts work the best.

Analytics allow you to spot these trends and to adjust accordingly. Eliminating anything that causes customers want to transfer to a more expensive live agent, or re-order the menu options so that the most commonly chosen menu items are presented first so customers can spend less time on the phone.

An inefficient IVR system can create scenarios where customers end up on hold, but with a well-designed IVR, no one has to be on hold.

2—Intelligent Routing

Even if you are only using IVR as a receptionist, you can still use the technology to reduce or eliminate call queues.

Many companies outsource call center operations to two or more call center locations. To balance call volume and customer needs with agent skills and availability, organizations use IVR for intelligent call routing.

When customers call in, the IVR can use login data or automatic number identification (ANI) to retrieve their profiles and latest data from our customer relationship management (CRM) system.

With that information it can dynamically route calls to the right agent at the right time, based on the real-time data provided by the call center. Providing customers with personalized service and preventing them from waiting on hold at the same time.

3—Scalability

Call spikes can lead to customers landing in the hold queue. To avoid this, you need an automated system with an infrastructure large enough to seamlessly handle call increases.

Not only that, an automated system should scale without costing more. In other words, vendors should have sufficient infrastructure in place already for this situation, and not pass along update costs directly to customers. Embracing cloud computing solutions provides these advantages, and more.

4—Callback

If customers don’t want to wait on hold, a callback service offers an alternative. If callers opt for a callback, they can hang up while their place is held in the queue. Once a customer service agent becomes available, the system places an outbound call and voila! your caller is now talking to an agent.

5—Surveys

What better way to know what you’re doing right or wrong then by having those most affected by your system tell you directly? Your analytics can tell you what the average call time is, or how long the average customer spends on hold, but they don’t give the customers’ opinion on these things. Surveys offer a way to tap into the voice of the customer directly.

Customer Self-Service IVR

About   

Former Director of Communications at Plum Voice with 20 years experience writing primarily about technology and customer service, the customer experience, voice of the customer, market research and communications.

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