Ever feel like your business operations teams don’t know what they don’t know? Customer service doesn’t know how to tell sales and R&D what product complaints they’re getting – or even if they should. Billing doesn’t know how to tell customer service who’s late on payments. And your IT team (if you’re large enough to have a team) doesn’t really know how to make all these legacy systems work together without a huge capital outlay like a unifying contact center software suite.
This scenario is simplified, of course, but what we’re illustrating is the phenomenon of departmental “siloes” – another term for the isolation and fragmentation that can stunt the communication (and therefore the success) of many of your mission-critical business operations. Fragmentation affects many different areas: technology, billing, payments, communications, and more. Without a clear understanding of what’s going on, breakdowns become inevitable. And the real issue for the future of your business is that these breakdowns don’t just happen between your teams – they happen in the communication between teams and customers. Your customers’ perception is of a disorganized, unprofessional business that is only interested in “talking at them” for its own gain. And this may encourage them to try out one of your competitors.
However, with so many sections of a business running in their own siloes, how can a company most quickly and easily bridge them all together? The good news is, you likely already have a great solution in your contact center.
Programming your voice channel in tandem with interactive voice response (IVR) is one cost-efficient way to deliver the rapid, efficient communications that conveniently provide your customers the information they need. IVR also allows multiple teams to work together and even simplifies and automates traditionally manual processes. Let’s take a closer look at how IVR automation can bridge those siloes.
It’s a fine irony of today’s business world that companies want to leverage their own data and are harvesting reams of it with every customer contact – but most don’t have a reliable way to crunch it for use. Within each siloed department is a siloed information database that doesn’t interact with any others. As an additional complication, the data that comes in to your contact center often is itself siloed, depending on what channel – voice, web, text, etc. – it was gathered through. If all this data could be connected and consolidated, your business would be one small step from refining it into the actionable data that will allow you to make better business decisions.
Today’s IVR is designed specifically to bust up – or more accurately, skim through – any information silo. Its DNA is a series of technological building blocks called APIs, or application program interfaces, that allow your IVR to interact with and collect data from any legacy system, no infrastructure updates needed. The result is that your business suddenly has a complete, organized data management system with an easy-to-use dashboard that will update any viewer or department with the relevant information of their choosing.
Billing and Payments
How much better would your bottom line look if any of your customer-service channels had the real-time knowledge to say the equivalent of “Hey, while we have you on the phone…” – automatically, no less?
That’s exactly what today’s IVR can do. Since it’s consolidated all your billing data with all your customer-service and purchase data, it can automate the entire collections process, even performing outbound reminders or proactively intervening in customer-service calls to suggest a payment. Further, since the entire payment process is digital and automated…
- Your customers can quickly and easily make payments anytime.
- You’re not paying your human staff to spend their time performing these tasks and handling sensitive financial information.
- You minimize risk through the IVR’s data security certifications such as PCI-DSS compliance.
It’s pretty much a given these days that, to be successful long-term, your business must not only provide excellent goods and services, but excellent customer service. There’s no better way to build long-term trust with your customers than to be there every time they need a little help. The channel customers most often choose to turn to for help is still the voice channel because it’s familiar, easy and convenient for them.
Your IVR can support your relationship-building efforts by filling in the gaps we imperfect human customers often create. This can include:
- Reminding customers, through a variety of channels, of important business-related items like appointments, payment due dates, policy end dates, product upgrades, the availability of additional training, etc. (You’ll note these reminders would usually come from separate departments but can now be unified.)
- Helping customers with common tasks like rescheduling or canceling appointments, ordering prescription refills, checking account balances, etc.
This automation through the voice channel provides an extra layer of flexibility, transparency and accessibility that your customers will come to rely on and appreciate.
Heeding Their Voices
More and more companies are seeking to improve customer communications and experiences using feedback from customers themselves. These voice of the customer (VoC) programs provide critical data that businesses use to drive improvements to their technology, communications and operational workflows.
IVR can support your efforts here too. Quick, automated post-contact phone surveys provide a method for engaging customers directly, at the moment when the event is fresh in their minds; these surveys can inspire strategies that will help drive real improvements. In addition, IVR applications allow you to easily plan, target and update your surveys for even more granular feedback data. And you can collect data from any target group of customers, on any product line or service, about specific agents – whatever information you need. You can even gather both qualitative and quantitative data to drive any form of decision-making.
Build a Bridge
As the digital transformation progresses, your operations need to evolve along with the technology. Today’s IVR is a solution that can solve problems, increase transparency, adapt to future needs, and provide the reliability, stability and security your business – and your customers — need. Plum Voice is a recognized industry leader in IVR and call automation solutions, with thousands of successful, long-term deployments. We are trusted by more than 600 enterprises in 150 countries, and we can help you build the bridge your operations need.