Every so often, a rock band reinvents itself — and success follows. The same could be true for your IVR ... a technology which is enjoying its re-discovered popularity.
Sometimes seen as a 'yesterday's tech', your IVR system may be left to mumble away in the background, slipping into the backwaters, like a faded country singer reduced to playing in deserted bars.
But even though they may not be the sexiest comms tool in today’s dazzling array of devices, apps and channels, IVRs are still essential and have a profound influence on customer experience and satisfaction.
The mistake many organisations have made is neglecting them - holding on to an out of date system that doesn’t link with other channels such as a unified communications platform. So, it’s little wonder that customer service leaders screw their noses up when IVR is mentioned.
Evolving IVRs for the 2020s
The fact is, customers like using IVRs. According to Forrester, about 79 percent of customers would rather self-serve than use human-assisted support channels. But despite channels such as chatbots, websites, SMS, messaging, social media and more, consumers still like to contact businesses using a voice channel.
The resurgence of interest in IVR systems has been largely due to the steady consumer demand for voice services. Advances in AI and machine learning technology and access to large amounts of ‘big data’ has enabled modern IVRs to be more personal and conversational.
The need to improve customer service has been the key driver in consolidating contact channels under one communications platform. As a result, self-service and human contact channels access the same pool of information to serve back to your customer for consistent and accurate interaction. The voice channel is an integral part of this mix and should be given at least as much attention as any other channel so that customers can choose their preferred option.
Reborn in the USA ... or wherever you are
To bring your IVR up-to-date and in line with your other self-services, there are questions to consider:
- Does your IVR reflect your services — as they stand today? If it doesn't then your customers are going to get frustrated trying to find something that isn’t actually there
- Can menus be shortened or eliminated altogether? Menus pose problems. Some are so long you forget the option you wanted, and others don’t seem to even offer you the right option. Keep them short and simple or use IVR voice recognition so customers can ask for what they want
- Do customers sometimes get trapped in your IVR with no way out? If so, they’ll likely hang up and you may have lost that customer and that sale
- How does your IVR work in sync with other self-service products? – can it be linked with chatbots, website help, and easily passed to an agent if necessary?
- Can you offer customers the option to make secure IVR payments? Letting customers complete transactions on their own means they can do so when it’s convenient to them, any time of day or night. It can increase sales and customer satisfaction.
Recent innovations in IVR technology will change consumer reactions radically for the better — and propel your business forwards rather than hold it back.
Five ways you can evolve your IVR into the multi-channel platform it needs to be
#1 Make it conversational: Consumer expectations have changed since the arrival of digital assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant meaning the consumers are now fully adapted to speaking naturally to automated systems so IVR self-service now needs to meet this expectation. Gartner predicts that by 2023, customers will prefer to use speech interfaces to initiate 70% of self-service interactions compared to 40% in 2019.
#2: Link voice to your website to create a visual aid. Many callers have smartphones, and technology now exists to give them the choice of options on their device screen while still interacting with an IVR. The IVR effectively steers the caller through steps that can make tasks like order tracking, or account enquiries a lot easier. When it comes to larger pieces of information, being able to see them can really help in completing an interaction and Visual IVR makes this possible.
#3: Identify and verify callers in seconds. Authenticating callers using ID&V is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be handled by an agent. Identifying customers before the agent gets involved will make the engagement smoother and more personal. Ultra-fast automated caller authentication will also save valuable time for your agents and customers.
#4: Remove phone menus ... forever. With IVR Natural Language and AI technology, callers can take control of their interactions, avoid frustration and get to the right place in seconds by simply saying exactly what they want, in their own words. Intelligent call routing ensures that the call goes to the most suitable agent, department or self-service system for first time resolution.
#5 Don’t forget the human element: Despite the growth of digital channels and automated speech interaction there are times when a customer just wants, or needs, to speak to a live agent. An IVR can handle the self-service vs agent engagement seamlessly so everyone can get in touch in the way they prefer.
What’s your next step?
It's possible to decrease customer wait times, increase sales, boost satisfaction and save money at the same time. But you will need to find a partner with the experience and best practice know-how to help you design and update your IVR, streamlining it with your other customer contact channels.
To find out more about what your IVR can really do for you and your customers download our free eGuide to Evolving your IVR into multi-channel engagement.
Sources: *Harris Interactive
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