How an Interactive-Voice-Response (IVR) system boosts customer satisfaction, brand image, staff productivity, all while saving costs
No matter whether your business is small, medium or large, how you communicate to the outside world by telephone matters to your business. Employing staff to just sit around waiting for calls is expensive and ineffective, unless you ensure the resulting calls lead to happy customers and more business.
Happy customers are a result of responding to and satisfying their needs and expectations, promptly, professionally and without fuss. So ask yourself:
- how often do you lose an important call?
- How long do callers have to wait before getting what they called for?
- Are they always connected promptly to the agent who is most qualified to help them?
- Do trained agents waste time dealing with low-value calls that could be better served in another way?
- Do you as a manager have an in-depth understanding of your callers’ wants and needs?
When it comes to telephone communication, a modern Interactive-Voice-Response (IVR) system is a powerful tool to help & satisfy your calling customers as well as increase the efficiency & productivity of your team, and therefore save costs.
Also sometimes called ‘auto-assistant’, ‘auto-attendant’ or ‘virtual receptionist’ , an IVR is a software which automates, routes and improves the handling of customers calls based on rules that you set.
Most of us have made calls that start with ‘Welcome to XYZ Limited Company. For Sales, press 1, for Customer Service press 2…’. But while in the past only large organizations like banks or telcos made extensive use of IVRs, these technologies today have become completely affordable to even small businesses.
When someone calls your company, the IVR plays one or several automated, pre-recorded messages, questions & prompts, and then, based on the callers response, routes the call to the right agent or to the requested information. Customers can select from the options presented by touch tone or by voice commands, and then avail themselves to the right information or person.
Implementing an IVR for your organizations will bring you several profound, bottom-line impacting business benefits:
Increased customer satisfaction & brand image
Firstly, with an IVR, you never miss an important call or customer. You avoid customers hanging up when no one picks up the call, long waiting times, and customers talking to the wrong person or to someone who cannot address their need or problem. Customers in search of a quick answer may find it more convenient to listen to a pre-recorded message then wait for an available agent, or they may choose to talk to real person.
Secondly, the prompt welcome and clarity afforded by the automated response conveys a level of professionalism & personalization that was in the past only expected of large organizations. It really gives callers the feeling of being attended to by a customer-focused professional. IVRs allow even small organizations can welcome callers like their big company cousins.
Thirdly, because the IVR gives you qualitative and quantitative insights into customer needs, and in your responses to them, it helps managers improve and fine-tune customer service and customer responsiveness.
Better staff productivity & organizational efficiency means saved costs
IVRs are all about optimizing the management of calls. Much information can be passed to a caller without involving an agent. If and when an actual agent conversation is required, the IVR ensures that the most appropriate agent takes the call. Even better, the IVR selections the caller made prior to routing the call to the agent can even inform the agent specifically about their needs, before taking the call. This means less confusion, less transferred calls, less calls put on hold. It can also mean less money spent on manning phones (agents, receptionists) and less on training employees unnecessarily.
Also, IVRs obviously don’t take lunch breaks, leave the office or go to bed, so an effectively structured IVR can assist in providing ‘round-the-clock, 24-hour assistance without the need for after-hours manpower.
Organizations who make use of IVRs can save significant costs by avoiding wasted resources and inefficient manpower deployment.
Today’s IVR systems are hassle-free & affordable
The reason modern IVR solutions are so affordable even to small businesses is the fact that they no longer require expense investments in hard-and software, complex office wiring, separate phone lines, or even in-house expertise.
Many services are now cloud-based or part of a hosted VoIP solution. This means a dedicated provider will deliver the solution as a service. They also host the software for their customer in the cloud or in a dedicated data center somewhere. Also included is usually the set-up, a comprehensive customer service, all hard-and software updates, maintenance and even training.