Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technology was hailed as a major breakthrough for contact centre operators. With software that can interpret and act on cues from speech in natural usage, it brought about the opportunity to automate large chunks of call processing.
With IVR making a range of self-service options available over the telephone, there is no longer a need to have an agent answer every call. Average costs per call have therefore fallen, while agents freed from handling basic queries can be deployed to focus on adding value through exceptional customer service.
There was just one problem – customers didn’t like IVR.
Mistakes were made with first generation IVR platforms. There was too much of a rush to automate everything, ignoring the fact that customers might prefer to speak to a person. Early versions of the technology could be clunky, failing to interpret requests and instructions because of differences in accent and pronunciation.
Perhaps the biggest complaint from customers was that it too often slowed down resolution, rather than improve efficiency. If it turned out their query couldn’t be handled by the IVR and they had to be transferred to an agent, they would be put on hold in a queue, meaning going through the IVR was effectively a waste of time.
And in systems where IVR was used to route calls based on information given at the start of the call, customers would be annoyed when they had to repeat their details all over again when they did get transferred to an agent.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way since then. The latest cloud-based systems are accurate, agile and efficient, capable of being integrated fully with other contact centre systems to streamline operations.
They can also be customised to adapt to the specific needs of each contact centre, allowing businesses to focus on shaping positive, high-quality customer experiences rather than just cutting costs. Even if you have agents operating across multiple sites, no problem – cloud IVR offers a simple solution to delivering a consistent, centralised experience across all.
Here are four key ingredients for creating an IVR platform that will add to, not detract from, customer satisfaction in your contact centre.
Automatic call back
From the perspective of improving the overall customer experience, one of the key additions to the latest IVR technology is automatic call back. When the intelligent software recognises that a query cannot be resolved through self-service, it triggers an offer to have an agent call the customer back as soon as someone is free. This saves them having to sit in a queue and is the kind of added convenience that helps to build trust in IVR.
Offering choice between self-service and speaking to an agent
Another big improvement with IVR systems is there is no longer an assumption that customers are happy dealing with an automated self-service platform. As with automatic call back, offering a choice between speaking to an agent or continuing through the self-service option early in the call shows courtesy and a commitment to personalised service.
IVR integration with ACD
One of the key flaws with early IVR design was that there were no means of sharing information with the automated call distributor (ACD). That meant when a call was routed to an agent, customers would have to repeat all of their details again – making them wonder why they gave them to the IVR in the first place. Modern IVRs like the NICE CXone self-service platform fully integrates with ACD so when a customer provides details at the start of the call, these are automatically shared with the agent.
IVR integration with CRM
As companies look to personalise service at every opportunity, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are becoming increasingly important in the contact centre. CRM gives an agent information about all previous contact with a particular customer so they can pick up the thread of queries quickly and offer more efficient, relevant service. This also applies to IVR and automated service systems, too. With IVR, for example, standard greetings can be changed based on recent interactions. If the CRM contains details of a purchase the day before a call, the IVR greeting could be something like “Are you calling about your new product,” with the menu of options changed accordingly.
With these features, IVR plays a key role in improving customer experience in the contact centre. Having shaken off the ‘annoying’ tag, IVR is now a key tool in making service more streamlined, consistent, responsive and personal.
Get in touch today to find out more about how Business Systems can help you implement an IVR solution that ensures customer satisfaction, not frustration.