An interactive voice response (IVR) system is a powerful technology tool that can give call centers the ability to automate any routine transaction. With interactive voice response, customers simply use the numbers on their touch-tone phones to enter their requests, such as inquiries about stock quotes, account balances, or the status of open orders. The interactive voice response system then processes the query, pulls the appropriate information from a back-end database, and provides the information back to the caller using text-to-speech technology, or by piecing together pre-recorded blocks of spoken text.
Some IVR systems offer innovative speech recognition services. This allows callers to naturally speak their requests, instead of punching in the numbers on their phone keypads. There are many benefits that companies can achieve by including interactive voice response technologies in their call center software strategies. Some of the primary advantages of IVR include:
Improved Customer Convenience
While many companies operate their call centers on a 24 x 7 basis, some only make their agents available during standard business hours. With an interactive voice response solution, these companies can allow their customers to access important information, such as account balances, transaction histories, and order status around the clock – even when live agents are not available. Interactive voice response systems further increase caller convenience by allowing customers to bypass the long hold times that can occur during peak calling periods, and “help themselves” to the information they need.
Increased Agent Efficiency
Today’s call center representatives address a variety of issues, from the most simple requests for information, to more complex problems that require extensive troubleshooting and resolution. An IVR package can make agents more productive by eliminating the routine inquiries that take up their valuable time. They can then focus their efforts on those customers with unique issues that require personalized, one-on-one attention.
Reduced Overhead Costs
A client utilizing an interactive voice response system spends far less time on the phone than one who waits on hold for the next available agent. This translates into dramatically reduced toll expenses, particularly for those call centers that handle high volumes of interactions and often experience long hold times.
Call volumes can be quite unpredictable, with levels rising and dipping at the most unexpected times. As a result, some call centers often find themselves understaffed when a flood of calls suddenly comes in. With an IVR system, contact centers can temporarily increase capacity during these brief periods. By transferring simple or routine inquiries back into the interactive voice response system for handling, agents can ensure that the maximum number of calls can be rapidly processed.
A Comprehensive View of Customer Activity
Many IVR systems can be tightly integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. This enables the inclusion of call-related activity conducted through the interactive voice response system in the client’s history. So, sales reps and other customer-facing personnel have a more complete record of all interactions across all touch-points.