Nine Things To Look For In IVR Payment Systems
The easier your customers can solve their problems, get information or make payments with a self-service solution, the happier they will be. Self-service support and call centers rely on IVR technology to expand and automate their operations. So what should you be looking for when you start building (or are seeking to replace or upgrade) an IVR payment application? There are a variety of considerations to explore.
When you are looking to build an IVR payment system, you have options. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the technology, the best step in assessing platforms is to make sure that the IVR payment system that you are considering has certain features and advantages. Not all IVR systems are created equally and researching the benefits is the best place to start if you aren’t sure where to begin.
What Is IVR?
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. IVR is a technology that uses automation to field incoming callers in a phone system by using pre-recorded responses instead of live operators. The caller usually uses their keypad, or voice, to choose options from a menu and doesn’t rely on communication with a human agent to answer questions or get information, after waiting on hold. Any time that you have called a business phone number and an automated greeting has asked you to press a number or state your question, need, or intention- you have most likely interacted with IVR. This type of technology goes beyond a simple voice bot and usually uses IVR to power the conversation and routing. IVR applications can utilize a keypad menu, or voice recognition, to move through call options or get the caller routed to the right department.
What started as a basic “switchboard” functionality to direct calls, has become more sophisticated over the years. As technology has advanced, IVR applications have modernized to add features and offer a wider range of self-service functionality. Today, IVR can automate more than a call center switchboard. It can integrate with multiple systems, CRMs, and databases while providing more value to a customer. It can process input and deliver results. Modern IVR systems can even incorporate artificial intelligence to understand the caller’s tone and intent and allow the caller to communicate their needs in natural language – these AI-powered systems are often referred to as intelligent virtual agents (IVAs).
How Does IVR work?
Essentially, IVR interacts with phone systems the same way a website browser interacts with the internet. IVR applications can take input, request information, and present information in real-time. It no longer is used to simply triage incoming calls – IVR technology has come a long way and continues to adapt to remain relevant to call center needs.
How Can IVR Be Used With Payment Systems?
IVR payment is a feature that allows callers to make a bill payment or purchase over the phone. A PCI-DSS-certified third party can integrate with an IVR system to safely collect credit card information for a transaction.
Over-the-phone payment systems remain common with consumers in every industry, including applications like making credit card payments, or bill payments in industries like insurance, utilities and healthcare. Since IVR technology can provide secure connections and quick customer support, it has become popular with companies who accept payments over the phone. Today, IVRs implemented with artificial intelligence can make the process even easier, allowing customers to complete their transaction in an intuitive way without experiencing the frustrations sometimes seen with traditional IVR systems.
How Does An IVR Payment System Benefit My Company?
The main benefits of an IVR payment system are guaranteed security, reduced operational costs, and higher customer satisfaction.
The first important benefit of using an IVR system with a payment platform is that you can protect your team and your customers by using technology to keep data (both yours and your customer’s) secure. With any payment processing system, there could be hesitation around collecting financial information from your customers. This part of the process can be tricky- from asking users to submit sensitive financial information, to figuring out which employees are exposed to these details, to considering how and where that information is stored. If you are only using live agents within your call center, every piece of this process needs to be compliant–the people as well as the technology. That alone can be a daunting task. Keeping one IVR platform compliant is easier than maintaining compliance for your entire team and any software or hardware you use during your payment process. And if using a third-party IVR provider, the weight of keeping up with the latest regulations and updating your systems is no longer completely on your shoulders.
Another benefit of using an IVR system for payment processing is that it saves your company money while saving your customers time. Without needing an agent to assist with every payment and each call, an IVR application can increase the productivity and efficiency of your payment collection process. By saving your users time on the line, and avoiding long call waiting times, your customers will be able to make quick and easy payments. So an IVR system leads to better customer satisfaction as well.
Finally, IVR payment solutions, when powered by artificial intelligence, can benefit a company by providing an almost-human natural touch. Older voice bots don’t feel as natural to interact with, but modern IVR applications feel closer to human conversation. In the event agent assistance is needed, certain solutions have introduced a way for live agents to remain on the line while the customer inputs their payment data, securing the payment information and de-scoping your agents from PCI compliance, while ensuring any issues can be handled immediately by a knowledgeable representative. This hybrid solution offers customers both options while saving your company money and compliance related costs, as it allows you to de-scope your contact center from PCI compliance.
The Best IVR Payment Systems Do These 9 Things
When considering solutions for an IVR payment system, be on the lookout for these benefits. The best IVR Payment systems will do these 9 things for you:
Keep Payment Processing Safe
Naturally, PCI compliance is one of the first priorities for any technology that handles payments. Are IVR payments safe? This is an imperative, so be careful who you utilize for your IVR processing and data storage. The Plum Voice platform has been certified PCI-DSS compliant since 2013 and is a secure option.
There are two options when keeping your IVR payment platform PCI-compliant. One is to make sure that every part of your on-site call center that handles payments is compliant. That includes software, hardware, and all of your live agents. The other choice is to descope your contact center. The latter choice shields your agents and on-site technology from ever coming into contact with the end-user payment information. Securing your payments with a descoped system reduces the average call time and results in higher protection and better customer support.
If you have any questions about compliance issues to consider, your IVR platform should be able to inform you of the steps they take to keep your team protected. Companies that prioritize safety, might go a step further. Plum Voice offers a product called SecureAssistant that goes above and beyond, making it easier and cheaper to achieve full PCI compliance. By shielding your call center from PCI-DSS requirements, SecureAssistance covers you and your team. The popular product allows for an AI to interact with the payment information while the human agent is on the line to assist during and/or after. The human agent is never exposed to any critical payment information.
SecureAssistant descopes the contact center from PCI requirements. This is an industry favorite because it protects your company, your staff, and your customers. By using a PCI-compliant, IVR-powered automated virtual assistant to collect payment information, you can quickly (and cost-efficiently) set up your contact center to accept payments without worrying about in-house security issues. When you’re talking about IVR payments, a technology like SecureAssistant that de-scopes your call center from these requirements is going to be the simplest and most cost-efficient way to quickly achieve compliance. Beyond that, a solution with the added benefit of an agent remaining on the line to help with any issues or questions that pop up is something that is quickly becoming a favorite among contact centers.
Skip any IVR payment systems that refuse to follow strict compliance guidelines. Data security is non-negotiable when it comes to payment processing technology. Security must be a major priority if your company is collecting, storing, or processing any financial information. Your customers are trusting you with their sensitive information, so it’s your responsibility to use secure technology.
Save You Money
The best IVR payment systems will save you money by freeing up your staff. IVR technology will allow your customer support and payment teams to scale without the need for constant growth or overtime. It’s expensive to employ live customer service agents, so you won’t want to use their resources for unnecessary or easy-to-complete tasks. Automating those tasks with IVR is a fraction of the cost and frees up those agents to provide better, white-glove service to customers with complex problems. So in the long run, you end up spending less for better customer service.
By saving your agents’ time, IVR platforms can handle concurrent calls to free up capacity, 24/7. No off-hours or overtime is required for an IVR payment system. Not every payment requires the handholding of an agent, so why should you pay for it? In fact, many customers prefer using self-service automation for making payments. Spending unnecessary amounts of your budget on customer support is an outdated practice that can be avoided with the right artificial intelligence IVR solution.
Present Powerful Features
Your IVR payment system platform should offer multiple products/features. Only move forward with a company that is experienced, trusted, and offers the applications that allow room for your company to flourish. Plum Voice has platforms that can grow and support your ever-changing technology needs. From Plum Fuse to Plum SecureAssistant, there is a wide range of products to help support your business goals. A few of the Plum products that work well with IVR payment solutions are:
Plum Fuse – Plum Fuse is an interactive application that allows your company to easily build virtual agents and IVR platforms. With a simple drag and drop tool, your team can create and manage the technology that you plan to implement. Plum Fuse is an innovative solution that lets your business replace legacy technology and build new virtual applications from scratch without coding. Fuse is user-friendly and can be deployed quickly. Don’t allow your outdated technology to clog your customer journey, check out the forward-looking products that could give your company the leverage you deserve.
Plum SecureAssistant – Plum Voice’s SecureAssistant provides a virtual agent that simply and securely accepts payment information, all while your agent remains on the line, shielded from the sensitive data. The agent can jump back into the call after the payment information has been exchanged in a secure manner. As explained above, Plum SecureAssistant descopes the payment process to make the compliance process secure and simple from an operations standpoint.
Plum VoiceTrends – Plum’s reporting and analytics tool provides the data from your voice applications through your own portal. It presents your patterns, metrics, and graphs in a visually pleasing way to help your team make deductions about your current IVR process. This reporting product helps make sense of your data so your team can make decisions on how to constantly improve your call center and payment processing operations.
Integrate with Other Platforms
Pick an IVR payment platform that can integrate easily with your other platforms. You shouldn’t have to stop using some of the software that you are already using. Communications Platforms as a Service (cPaaS) offerings have more robust features and can integrate with other communications channels. Adopting a cPaaS platform to handle IVR and other voice applications allows you to use APIs to connect to, and integrate with, a wide range of external technologies. This enables your voice apps to utilize real-time data.
These systems are designed to handle a range of communications needs. IVR remains a central component of many cPaaS products and can drive communications through voice, web, SMS, MMS, and social media channels. Plum Voice platforms can integrate with CRMs and other platforms that you are currently using to make your transition smooth. Making sure that your third party can easily match your existing software and hardware is an important factor.
Offer Pre-Built Applications
Pre-built applications can take the intimidation out of coding and can be easier to implement. A platform like Plum Fuse, which offers pre-built applications, shortens development cycles and rapidly accelerates testing and deployment timelines. Make sure that your IVR solution is easy to use. Plum Voice offers drag and drop tools that make pre-built applications easier to deploy. Plum Fuse is an interactive application that allows your company to easily build virtual agents and IVR platforms. With user-friendly tools, your team can create and manage the technology that you plan to implement without a large web development team handling the build or management.
Eliminate On-site Software
Cloud-based services eliminate the need to buy and maintain on-site software, resulting in additional cost savings. You will save money on license and infrastructure costs. By removing the on-site software component, you also eliminate the need for on-site maintenance and updates. Cloud-based services allow for fully remote operations. They also are easier to keep secure and up-to-date. Cloud computing makes it more realistic to keep backups or redundancies that keep your company shielded from disasters or disruptions. During the case of an emergency, loss prevention is another benefit of cloud-based solutions.
Allow for Customization
Your payment platform should work with your exact needs. Plum Voice has products that allow for easy implementation while offering personalization. From drag and drop tools to prebuilt templates, there are production-ready options that can accelerate your voice application deployments. Even without requiring any coding, the Plum interface enables you to create dynamic IVR platforms and conversational apps that are completely customized to your needs. The audio file management tools ensure that you can tailor the conversations, sounds, and options that match the tone of your brand and are customized to your company. The call flow will be exactly what your team needs and can adapt with your growth.
Collect Data for You
Another aspect of IVR payment platforms that you should be on the lookout for is the ability to collect analytics. Getting your fingers on the pulse of the payment system’s performance is important. Being able to track your payments, your employees, and your virtual agents will give you the data to make changes to your process or team. Optimizing your IVR payment system by using data collection can make your company more effective and increase productivity. An example of this could be finding the points in the call flow where you are losing customers or callers are dropping off. Changing the audio files or routing options around those areas in the customer journey provides opportunities for improvement. Taking the data and finding places that need revision uses behavior analysis to your benefit.
Plum Voice offers reporting tools through Plum VoiceTrends. This analytics software gives you the data you need to measure, improve, and optimize your automated voice communications. Developed specifically for voice applications, VoiceTrends provides advanced voice analytics and reporting to help companies continuously monitor their voice applications and identify areas for improvement. VoiceTrends has its own unique web portal that shows graphic representations of data that cover call volume, event tracking, and application performance. This delivers data on usage, and different user inputs. The performance tracker keeps tabs of application errors to help identify trouble areas and improve applications. Built-in analytics and reporting make it easier to optimize applications for great customer experiences.
Provide Exemplary Case Studies
Before signing a contract with a third party, your IVR platform should be able to show you how their tools have worked for other companies. Ask for case studies on products or white papers that are relevant to how those products have worked in the past for others. You don’t want to be a guinea pig for a company that is exploring a beta stage or doesn’t have proof that its applications can be deployed effectively. Your IVR payment platform should be able to provide these case studies, preferably ones that are relevant to the industry that your company is in, so that you can have a greater sense of trust before committing or putting any money down.
Discover how other brands have implemented Plum automation in order to see what kind of success is possible for you. Learn more about how companies can benefit from Plum products with the relevant case studies below. Regardless of your needs, Plum has a range of solutions and products to fill your needs.
Two Real-Life Examples of Plum Voice In Action
A major insurance company had their agents spending precious time processing payments manually, which resulted in longer average call handling and average hold times. The insurance company wanted to automate over-the-phone payments. Automating payments meant that the company had to ensure that the IT infrastructure was secure and PCI-compliant. Using automation and Plum’s VoiceTrends analytics suite, the insurance company achieved an 89% call containment rate for payment calls, which resulted in a 350% cost reduction and a better, streamlined customer experience. Plum’s analytics revealed how well its payment application worked.
VoiceTrends showed that it achieved an 89% automation rate and drastically reduced average call handling time and average call hold time while improving First Call Resolution (FCR) rate. All but 11% of payment processing calls were automated by the IVR. With an 89% automation rate, the company realized significant savings. The average cost per call featuring a live agent was around $5 and the average cost per call using the payment application came to less than $0.15. This translated to annual savings on payment processing calls in excess of 350%. Furthermore, both the integration and transactional costs Plum offered were significantly lower than the other options that the client considered for the project.
OSG, a leading provider of omnichannel billing and payment solutions, sought to enhance its robust digital offerings by providing an IVR solution. The company sought to expand its digital capabilities and part of that process involved building out IVR payment processing. OSG teamed up with Plum Voice to build its IVR payment application. This allowed OSG to deploy a custom application, and the Fuse platform also made it quick and easy for the OSG team to clone and tweak IVR applications for new clients.
The OSG team was able to use Fuse to create basic call-flows, but as they realized that their applications called for more complex development, requiring multiple API calls and incorporating more intricate, layered IVR call routing, they made the decision to lean on Plum Voice Professional Services to develop their core application. After adding IVR payments, OSG saw a 90% adoption rate of the technology and an 80% reduction in manual labor.
If your payment system can offer those 9 things, setting up an IVR payment system can be deployed in a manageable time frame and doesn’t require intimidating coding. Replacing your technology is a transition that you don’t want to have to do often, so it’s wise to choose a company that you can trust and one that offers you worthwhile benefits. If you are ready to move forward with a company that can offer you all of the above features, contact a team member at Plum Voice to get started on your next move to improving your tech stack.