IVR and customer support

The future of IVR in customer service

Written by on July 12, 2016

Some of my favorite customer service stories involve my favorite support channel: the phone. The Trader Joe’s employees who delivered groceries to an elderly man, braving a snowstorm, to make sure his dietary requirements were met. The ThinkGeek customer agent who activated a $5.00 gift card to ensure a husband’s holiday surprise. The incredible drug company that bears the cost when concerned pet owners call ASPCA if any of its products are involved.

However, the wand behind every wizard, the IVR, is never mentioned in any of these heroic stories. The IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system makes sure that callers can navigate to the right team through nothing more than a series of keypad presses. Such an unsung hero surely deserves more than to be the butt of many jokes, like this one.

After all, with an IVR system in place, businesses can

  1. Automate the customer identification process with voice prompts
  2. Predict why customers are calling to speed up service
  3. Collect important information from the customer during wait time
  4. Prioritize calls based on value
  5. Personalize messages and prompts
  6. Handle high call volume and surges efficiently
  7. Ensure customers are routed to the best agent for their issue
  8. Track and report customer issues to improve future service
  9. Reduce overhead costs, including staffing

Cloud-based IVR systems are flexible to implement — and equally popular with small and mid-sized businesses whose goal is to avoid costly and unwieldy infrastructure. A thoughtfully deployed IVR is a confidence builder for customers – imagine the delight of approaching a support call with pleasure instead of dread.

Cloud-based tools are also constantly evolving to make agents and customer lives easier and simpler. IVR systems, thankfully, will continue to play a pivotal role, mainly because there is so much scope for scalability and innovation. Here are some key areas through which you can evolve your IVR:

Application-Programming Interface (API) Based Interaction

Customers are the best ambassadors for your business. As extensive users of your product, they are always looking for ways to maximize ROI — and are likely to rely heavily on support. This dependency is critical, so IVR systems will add flexibility by supporting APIs that enable integration with other vendors and applications. These integrations unlock a host of ways for your IVR to intelligently route your customers and provide greater personalization; they hold a promise of contextual awareness that will elevate your customer experience.

Information Extensions

Customer issues present themselves in endless variety. With an IVR system in place, the most common customer problems, the ones that don’t necessarily require an agent to tackle like your account balance, can be tackled with an automated response. On the other hand, if customer problems are unique, then agents can be ready to address them immediately. With information extensions, customers can be routed in tighter, more efficient systems that improve response times and customer satisfaction by providing self-service options.

Improved User Interface

In the world of customer service, the mantra for the future is “less is always more.” As popular as the telephone is, by the time customers reach a support agent, they are often frustrated. Despite the self-serve nature of phone support, it’s essential to manage the process to keep menu options to a minimum, avoid marketing messages, and above all minimize wait times. It’s critical to test and re-test the IVR experience to make sure the process is not losing you customers.

Business Value and Impact

Having the right IVR system in place has significant benefits for businesses. The ability to track the campaigns that are driving the conversations means you can adjust your messaging and hone your responses. Conducting customer surveys and tracking marketing and sales activities brings valuable insights that are bound to fuel customer acquisition, target the right prospects, support sales efforts, and improve revenue strategies.

Interested in learning more about IVR systems and how it can help you with your business needs? Check this out.

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