Interactive Voice Response
Today’s technologies are helping businesses to meet their ultimate goal of saving time and money while providing superior products and customer service. Some of the most effective technologies available are in the area of interactive voice response (IVR). With the implementation of an interactive voice response system, small and large organizations alike are watching their profits and efficiencies increase.
What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?
To put it simply, IVR is a technology that allows your customers to interact with your company via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition. interactive voice response systems can respond to a customer’s inquiry with either prerecorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct the customer on how to proceed. These systems can be used to control any process that can be broken down into a series of simple interactions.
Benefits of Interactive Voice Response
Time & Money Savings
Time and money savings are the biggest benefits of implementing an IVR system at your organization. Traditionally, companies employ a large number of trained employees in their call centers to answer and respond to customer calls. Each one of these calls takes up precious time, and not every call warrants the attention of a trained call center employee. For certain interactions, such as checking the status of shipped goods or account balances, customers actually prefer to interact with automated systems.
If a large organization is able to reduce call times with live representatives by even a few seconds, they could save hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year and potentially improve customer satisfaction at the same time. IVR systems can handle most of the frequently asked customer questions and requests (i.e. directions, office hours, account balances, phone directory, common technical support issues, etc.) so your trained employees may better utilize their time with more complicated issues.
Your company can also increase efficiency and reduce labor costs by using IVR to route calls to the appropriate department. Instead of using a live agent to answer and direct each call, the IVR system’s menu options help to streamline this process by answering, prioritizing and routing calls to the right person. This allows your company to increase call volume while better serving your customers.
The proper design of an interactive voice response solution is also critical to realize efficiencies. For example, many early generation IVRs walk callers through a data collection process at the start of a call but fail to pass the information along to the agent, forcing the agent to ask the caller for the same information they just provided. Best-of-breed IVR systems should collect data up-front and pass it along to the agent, thereby enabling the agent to be more efficient should a live interaction become necessary. This process also reduces the overall length of the call, which translates to money savings for your company.
Enhanced Customer Service
Some companies may worry that implementing an automated system could frustrate their customers by taking away that ‘personal touch’ of a live agent. Well, there is a difference between a “good” IVR system and a “bad” IVR system, which is why it is imperative that you work with an IVR specialist that knows the difference! Whether for a new IVR system, or a system that was developed years ago, quality IVR specialists have access to IVR tuning and analytics capabilities to fix “hotspots” and identify key areas for enhancement. After all, the success of an IVR solution boils down to customer acceptance.
A properly designed and tuned system will leave customers feeling like they are receiving top-notch customer service, even if it just by a computer. In this day and age of human interaction with technology, if your customer has a simple inquiry, they actually prefer to “self-service” and quickly receive the answer through a computerized system rather than waiting for several minutes to speak with a live operator to get the same answer.
Additionally, an IVR system allows you to offer support to your customers 24/7. Unlike your live representatives, your IVR system never takes a break, asks for vacation time or needs to sleep. Now your customers are able to get help with simple questions or retrieve personalized data through your IVR system anytime, anywhere.
Appear Bigger Than You Are
If you are a smaller organization, implementing an IVR system is also a wonderful technique to allow you to appear bigger than you actually are. The general public believes that only large organizations have the ability to afford such complex systems. Furthermore, adding more menu options to your IVR for several different departments that end up routing to one or more voicemail boxes can further assist in creating a larger presence.
Integrated Voice Response Implementation & Support
It used to be that only large companies with big budgets could afford the software, hardware and staff to run IVR systems, namely because they ran them in-house. Now, organizations of any size can have access to this technology through hosted solutions. Companies such as Surgent Networks offer voice application hosting services that fit every budget. Surgent can create custom IVR applications to meet the need of any business, leading to reduced operating costs and an increased bottom line.
You can also host your voice application with confidence, as Surgent Networks leverages the most secure and redundant collocation facility in the Northeast that is optimized for voice and data applications. This location has one of the largest IP backbones available and TDM/SIP Connectivity for high capacity inbound/outbound voice service.
While price and product quality are essential factors when selecting a hosting company, the level of customer service offered should be in your top three. Surgent Networks’ top priority is the up-time of its customers’ critical voice applications and the company prides itself on the quality and timeliness of its technical support. Surgent utilizes best-of-breed system monitoring to continually check server health, and employ a team of experienced Network Operations staff that is available whenever you need them. To learn more about Surgent Networks’ application hosting solutions, click here.