What is IVR?

Are You Wondering, “What Is IVR?”

IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, is an automated phone system that allows incoming callers to access the information they need without having to talk to a person. Callers can help themselves by entering information via a touch-tone keypad or speaking into the phone. This technology helps reduce operational costs without compromising service. With younger demographics preferring self-service, an IVR offers a simple, easy way to accomplish a task. It also serves as a way to collect customer information upfront for a more personalized service experience. Implementing an IVR system based on a brand persona is extremely beneficial for call centers that aren’t able to staff enough agents to answer all incoming calls.

How It Works

Odds are you’ve been greeted by an IVR before. It goes a little like this: You need to check your account balance, so you dial the number on the back of your credit card. You are greeted with a recording that says:

  • Press 1 for Spanish
  • Press 2 to report your card lost or stolen
  • Press 3 to speak to an account manager
  • Press 4 to apply for a new account
  • Or enter the last 4 digits of your Social Security number to view your account information

Once the caller presses the button corresponding with her needs, she is routed to the proper agent or department. If no agent is available, then the caller will be placed in a queue.

Primary Capabilities & Benefits

Understanding what an IVR is becomes pretty simple once you learn about the capabilities listed below, which all work together to help your company reduce costs, increase business and service clients more efficiently.

1. Connect Call Centers in Different Locations

Since recordings are at the heart of IVR technology, ensuring customer interactions are consistent across multiple geographic locations becomes easier to manage.

Key Benefit: Incoming calls are dealt with in a more consistent, streamlined manner, providing callers with the same experience no matter where they are. This consistency helps increase company image and enables companies to act as a unified whole regardless of where employees are located.

2. Customize Greetings & Prompts

Companies can pre-record multiple greetings on the IVR to offer a more personalized experience for customers each time they call. The call flow is strategically developed to optimize customer experience and the recorded voice and language used is based on a persona that aligns to an organization’s brand identity.

Key Benefit: Although not all companies choose to do so, customized greetings can help companies differentiate themselves from the competition by giving callers a more individualized, unique experience.

3. Collect and Record Caller Data:

With IVR technology, companies can collect information about caller needs depending on what they say or enter into the keypad. This data is then used to accurately route calls and resolve caller issues. IVR systems can also be used to conduct customer service surveys and identify areas for improvement. 

Key Benefit: Using technology to collect and record caller info helps reduce the potential for operator errors. The likelihood that the call will be routed accurately each time goes up with an IVR system. Data collection also gives companies greater insight into who their callers are and how they can service them better. 

4. Automate Customer Service: IVR systems allow customers to solve their own problems and obtain the information they are searching for without having to speak to a person.

Key Benefit: For basic issues, automated customer service saves time for both the caller and agent. If a more complex issue arises, customers can select an option to speak with an agent.

5. Prioritize Calls: An IVR can be integrated with ACDs to prioritize calls based on caller value. VIP callers are immediately routed to the agent or department best suited to help them. If no agents are available, VIP callers will be bumped ahead to the front of the queue.

Key Benefit: Companies can give high-value callers the attention they deserve and do not have to worry that their best customers aren’t being treated as such.

6. Route Calls Intelligently:

Using the IVR’s voicemail menu, a customer can enter info explaining why she is calling. The call is then intelligently routed to the agent or department that can help the caller most effectively.  Routing can be by skill, channel or business rule or driver.

Key Benefit: This feature saves time and frustration for customers. By collecting caller info off the bat, callers are always directed to the agent most qualified to help them. 

7. Handle High-Volume Calls With Ease:

IVR systems allow companies to easily handle high call volumes by freeing up agents for more complex customer service cases. If there are not enough agents to address callers seeking live help, then those callers are either placed in a queue or can opt to have an agent call them back when it’s their turn.

Key Benefit: Companies that use IVR systems are able to streamline communications and do more business without needing additional staff. Callers get their questions answered with minimum wait time and effort.

8. Translate Spoken Words Into Text and Vice Versa

Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) is a technology used to recognize and translate spoken words into text. Text-to-speech (TTS) is used to do the reverse – translate written words into verbal language. Call centers using ASR and TTS can bypass constraints of standard touch-tone IVR menus, enabling them to provide a better customer experience.

Key Benefit: Current speech recognition tools help customers get what they need faster, and that means they are likely to choose automated voice self-service in the future. Offering better, faster service translates to increased probability for your company.

The IVR Difference

Telephones remain the top-choice of communication for customers. However, that doesn’t mean they actually want to speak with a person on the other line. For basic informational needs, there is a growing trend towards self-service.  It’s simpler, more direct and it ultimately saves customers’ time.

Now that you know what an IVR is and the basics of how an IVR works, are you ready for one? If the above capabilities weren’t reason enough, here are some of the overarching ways your business could benefit from an IVR:

  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Streamline communications
  • Improve employee performance
  • Free up agents for more complex tasks
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Increase revenue

This technology will allow your company to operate with greater ease while producing better results and improving customer satisfaction. It’s a win-win situation.



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