Modern Communication Technology is a hub of different components and innovations driven towards making communication and disseminating information accessible and convenient for humankind. One of such modern innovations is an IVR system operating with mobile phone technology. In this article, we shall be examining what an IVR system is, the benefits of using it, the providers of the system, and so on.
What is IVR?
IVR is an acronym that stands for Interactive Voice Response. In simple terms, the IVR system is an automated mobile technology that creates a channel for an incoming caller to interact with the recipient of the call without necessarily speaking to the recipient. To address the concept broadly; the IVR system is described in the following ways:
- It is a technological innovation used mostly by businesses, companies and call centres, which allow their incoming callers to get information from them through an automated response system that consists of pre-programmed messages without the need to speak to a representative of the company or business.
- An IVR system gives the caller a menu of options designated to different keypad selections ranging from 0-9. Upon pressing the suitable keypad or by voice input, the caller is directed to the information he is seeking or instead directed to the appropriate department that will attend to his concerns or inquiry.
- IVR system is an effective communication method used by companies and call centres to decongest high call volumes and enhance speedy dispensation of customer queries, issuing swift and accurate answers. This free chat line service is billed to the owner of the ivr and not the caller.
- IVR is a self-service system that allows customers of companies or businesses to resolve their issues or find answers to their queries and perform simple tasks for and by themselves. In a more complex situation whereby the customer cannot resolve the issue by himself, the IVR responds quickly to connect the customer to an agent or representative to address the issue appropriately.
How does IVR work?
An IVR system works with a Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) comprising a telephony board, a database, a support system, and dedicated IVR software. The IVR software contains the pre-recorded voice greetings and customisable replies depending on the customers’ needs. E.g. a series of messages for customers making an inquiry and a different series of messages for customers looking to order items from the company. The following explains in detail how an Interactive Voice Response system works:
- For every caller, the IVR welcomes him with a pre-recorded greeting. The caller can choose language either by voice reply to the computer or by selecting the appropriate keypad. For example, in some situations, multi-national businesses, the IVR could require the caller to pick the language with which he would like to continue the interaction. E.g. English, Spanish, French, etc.
- After bypassing the greeting and language selection, the IVR enlists the customer all categories of customer queries grouped together or individually as assigned to different keypads. The customer is expected to listen attentively and follow the instructions carefully to get the best services from the IVR.
- The IVR system works as an alternative to human-to-human communication and as a support to human representatives. As a result, it always has a keypad or option designated for issues that can only be resolved by real-time communication with a specialist agent. This function of IVR also works for customers who find following the pre-programmed instructions complex and would rather just speak to a human agent that can patiently guide them in the language they understand.
Benefits of using an IVR system
Companies and businesses’ general motive behind the wide use of IVR systems is to create a user-friendly and tailored customer support environment that enables customers to feel cherished and valued. Asides from this, there are many other side-benefits of an IVR system which include the following:
- It increases the productivity of the customer support team: With the help of an IVR system, the team can filter their calls based on the level of urgency to determine issues that need to be resolved quickly.
- It saves time: Some companies are dealing with many inbound calls, which makes timeliness in the dispensation of calls crucial to the success of their enterprise. IVR makes it faster to attend to calls by first dispensing with the ones that the pre-recorded instructions and answers can resolve and then leaving only a few calls for the agents.
- It aids effective organisation and articulation of issues: An IVR system compiles most frequently asked questions with their pre-recorded answers and organises them into different categories designated to the phones’ respective keypads. The queries are streamlined to specific matters that are peculiar to the client’s needs. That way, when such queries eventually get to the human agent, the agent is already aware of the type of issue he would face.
- It helps customers avoid the bureaucracy of communication: In traditional support systems, customers have always faced the problem of being passed around from one desk to another before being connected to a specialist who can give appropriate answers. However, with the aid of an IVR system, just by carefully following simple instructions of the automated voice, customers are directly routed to the right specialists capable of giving needed accurate answers, thereby avoiding the time-wasting and frustrating procedure of bureaucracy.
- This project the company as a reliable organisation whose top priority is improving customer experience. It enhances the brand image and reputation of the company. It constantly presents the company in a good light to every caller with a cheerful welcome message with a patient and supportive tone, enabling the customer to feel comfortable explaining his issues.
- It improves the company’s customer service: With the aid of the self-service support system IVR provides, a company can attend to the needs of its customers even when its human agents are unavailable for one reason or the other. Customers can go through the automated menu options with clearly spelt out instructions that can do great justice to customer needs without necessarily connecting to the human representative of the company. That way, the company can save costs on employing numerous agents to attend to the myriads of customer needs.
Who are the Providers of IVR?
As explained in the preceding section, the benefits of an IVR system show that it is a valuable technology to virtually all industries, including textile, agriculture, retail, hotel management, manufacturing, etc. Today, many local and international companies use IVR to attend to their large customer base effectively. They provide this efficient form of customer service by establishing their own Call Centre. The call centre is in charge of the organization and smooth operation of their Interactive Voice Response system. The call centre coordinates the IVR to perform the following functions for the company:
- Routing calls to order and purchase products from the company.
- Booking and confirmation of appointments with the personnel of the company
- Collating transactional information
- Compiling customer information generated from feedback
- Identification and execution of customer accounts and more.
Interactive Voice Response is a valuable technology to the core of businesses and companies, which positively impacts their service quality. An IVR system offers so many benefits, which includes projecting the company in a good light, promoting the 24/7 availability of the company to its customers, enhancing customer service agents’ performance. Other benefits include giving the company a more professional outlook, reducing hassles of communication between customer and company, and saving both customer and company support teams. IVR is being used in many industries worldwide, mainly for different functions, including routing calls, collating customer information and making purchases.