IVRs are still a valuable part of customer engagement. Changing customer demands, fierce competition plus globalisation are pushing companies to seek better ways to manage customer relationships.
One area that has risen in importance over the years is interactive voice response (IVR), an integral part of the customer service relationship. The global market for Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems is projected to reach £5.54 billion by 2023, mainly through the growth of outbound IVR in smaller and medium size businesses.
Designed to cut down costs and improve system functionality, today they are capable of so much more. They’ve grown up, re-invented themselves and today play a key role in delivering real, automated, self-service for those that like to sort things out themselves. Afterall, 68% of a contact centres inbound contact comes via the phone so the IVR is a frontline tool in your customer experience.
We’ve learned a lot from the early days of IVR and fully understand that it needs to be at the top of its game because, if it isn’t, it’s going to do more harm than good. Today IVRs can be used to automatically direct a caller to the right agent saving them from being passed around from person to person. They can also let the customer pay for something, whenever it suits them and securely too. They can be used to share information about routes, timetables, deliveries for example and can let the caller use their own words to ask for what they want with natural language technologies.
So, now the focus of IVRs has changed from reducing costs and agent headcount to widening the number of customer engagement channels you offer so that you can encourage people to choose you and use their channel of choice. With CX being such a keen differentiator for today’s businesses it’s important to be able to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Without an army of human agents, it can get difficult to manage the volume of inbound contacts which is why being able to offer customers and alternative will ease the burden on the agents, improve the speed of resolution for the customer all without compromising the customer experience.
For example, no one wants to wait in a queue. In fact, 60% of people think 1 minute it too long to wait on hold. So, the answer is to offer them the chance to resolve their issue themselves using automated, self-service tools.
It’s not surprising that customers get frustrated with poorly designed IVRs when they’ve been created by the business purely to reduce headcount or other costs. The fault doesn’t lie with the IVR technology or with speech-enabled systems. It’s almost always because there’s been a lack of real thought about how to match an application to what customers really want to achieve when they call an organisation.
But IVRs are not all about 100% self-service. They can be the agents’ assistant and the customers friend in terms of directing calls and providing real time updates for example. Today’s IVRs can help connect people or leave them to sort issues themselves.
As many customers still like to talk to a real person, when it comes to setting up an IVR, help them get to the right person as fast as possible. Embrace advanced speech technologies to greet the customers with a friendly ‘hello, how can I help you today?’. The customer can then use their own words to ask for what they want. No more trying to remember the menu option number you want or how to get back to the beginning.
However, when customers just want basic information - like their account balance, the status of their order, or just want to pay a bill over the phone - they really like the convenience of automated options that are fast, simple and convenient. Not only do they love it, but today, they expect it. To customers, a good IVR shows them you are a company that is equipped to help them, even out of hours.
No matter your company size, a good IVR is the foundation for your whole customer engagement and has the ability to make your CX shine.
For a deeper insight into how to get the right balance of tools to deliver amazing customer experience, take a look at our eGuide – self-Service a win/win for contact centres and customers.
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