Whether you’re just starting your search for an interactive voice response (IVR) solution or are well into the decision-making process, it’s important to understand the basics of IVR technology, as well as its latest innovations,to enable you to choose the right choice for your specific needs. This IVR buying guide was written to help you along your journey to making a decision that will drive your organization’s and customers’ self-service and voice channel success.
More than ever, your customer experience is determined by how you differentiate your brand and generate a loyal customer base. In other words, product and price are no longer enough to stay competitive. And often, the make or break touchpoint in establishing an exceptional customer experience is an IVR. Responsible for identifying, segmenting and routing callers to the best resource, an IVR helps both in early-stage interactions, as well as with ongoing customer engagement.
The Fundamentals of IVRs
Also called an auto attendant,an IVR has long served as a telephony menu system which interacts with callers using voice and touch-tone selections. First introduced in the 1990s to help reduce the cost of voice interactions, IVR quickly became a viable self-service channel with menus of prompts that enable callers to service their own inquiries. Today, businesses of all sizes, across nearly every industry, use IVR systems as both a self-service channel and as a way to route customers to obtain the help they are seeking.
The Power of IVR Technology
Even with a growing number of digital channels, the tried and true IVR system continues to deliver benefits that have the potential to deliver an exceptional customer experience and reduce costs while increasing contact center efficiency. In fact, there are few channels that deliver as much when it comes to achieving a differentiated customer experience.
Like with other contact center technologies, there have been significant advancements in IVR systems in the past several years. Innovations,such as artificial intelligence (AI), automatic speech recognition (ASR),text-to-speech engines, call recording, SMS, transcription, voice biometrics, voicemail detection and more,have greatly enhanced IVR systems, enabling them to deliver robust, richer experiences that improve customer interactions and business outcomes.
Along with advancements in their capabilities, IVRs have kept many of their original attributes which have made them contact center work horses for decades. Perhaps, the most obvious of these is brand recognition. Like logos, websites, and advertising, an IVR system communicates your brand’s personality. But instead of visuals, it does so through voice, music, scripts and tone. This is why it’s important to consider your overall brand image when you choose your IVR. By taking into consideration the role IVR plays in your brand image, you can build consistency between your voice and digital channels to build a cohesive image that drives greater recognition and loyalty.
Brand recognition, driven by IVR, is also communicated in customer journey flows. Do customers have to navigate through an extensive round of prompts before reaching someone who can help them? Or, is the process simple, easy, and perhaps most importantly –personalized. What customers experience when they dial can greatly impact how they view your brand.Thus, you’ll also want to think about their journeys and how they fit into your overall experience when searching for your next IVR.
An IVR system also serves as a treasure trove of customer insights –especially when it has pre-defined dashboards and visualizations that enable you to understand customer journeys in real time. And with these insights, you can begin to generate fast, informative decisions that improve the customer experience. This includes fast updates to call flows, menus and customer experiences.
The cost for an average voice interaction has risen to above $15. When you compare this to the average self-service interaction being less than a dollar, it’s no wonder why many businesses have chosen to embrace and expand upon their IVR technology. And IVR interactions have hit a new level of personalization and effectiveness with the addition of AI.
When AI is incorporated into an IVR system, callers can be prompted with relevant information and transitioned along with this information and context to ensure a differentiated, and even personalized experience. In fact, personalization has hit an entirely new level with AI-driven, conversational IVR which offers voice-driven, hands-free self-service. With this addition to traditional IVR, callers no longer just respond to prompts, they lead the conversation by interacting with the IVR using their natural way of speaking. These phrases and sentences are captured and processed to understand what a caller wants to achieve during the interaction and seamlessly routed to the best resource.
With business goals rising at a pace equivalent to customer expectations, it’s no wonder that organizations are looking for new ways to maximize the efficiency of every department, including the contact center, as well as the agents who work in them. However,the reality is that it may no longer be cost-effective to rely on a team of agents to manage every customer interaction. Yet, nearly every customer still wants the ability to reach an agent if they need to –especially if an interaction has been escalated or deemed complex.
With intelligent, intuitive IVR, you can handle a wide range of interactions, saving significant time and energy. By collecting information during an interaction, it can help assure that the customer can be connected to the best possible agent or other resource to expedite a successful resolution. This means time-savings for both the agent and the customer, as well as a more seamless experience that drives improvements in a variety of contact center KPIs.
Find the Right IVR for Your Business Needs
Perhaps more than in any other part of your organization, time equals money in your contact center. Every second a caller is talking with an agent, there is a cost. Every extra minute of hold time is the potential for a lost sale or, even worse, a lost customer. It’s clear that an IVR that drives more meaningful, seamless self-service and voice interactions offers tremendous advantages–especially when it is optimized with the capabilities for your specific needs. Every interaction that is successfully managed through the IVR, as well as every call that is routed faster to the best resource improves your overall customer experience and success of your contact center. Over time, this impact can be substantial.