What is an IVR System?
Interactive voice response (IVR) is a call center software technology that acts as an automated first point of contact for human callers.
When a person calls in, a recorded voice reads out menu options corresponding to common customer queries or reasons why they might need help. Selecting an option will either:
- Trigger another automated response
- Notify the caller that they will be routed straight through to a human agent
- If no agent is available, place the caller in a queue until someone can take their call
Customers can select an option by either punching numbers into the phone’s keypad or speaking. The system recognizes these commands and can deliver in-depth information based on it, including answers to frequently asked questions, account balances, and operating hours.
How Can IVR Systems Benefit Your Business?
Every day, your call center agents have to field customer calls of varying complexity and value to your business. Not all of these calls need a dedicated human response, particularly if they’re simple requests for information that could be answered on a website. Even if the requests are more complex, you can save time by pre-screening and routing them to the most qualified agents for the subject.
That’s where IVR comes in handy. An IVR system is a smart way to reduce call volume without sacrificing the high level of service your customers expect from your company.
IVR in Large Businesses
Here are some of the big businesses IVR technology has helped:
Executive Health Resources
Scripps Newspaper Group
IVR in Small Businesses
IVR technology helps plenty of small businesses deliver round-the-clock customer service and reduce call loads. With IVR absorbing many of the calls, they can operate with fewer employees and channel resources into their growth.
Advantages of Using IVR
Businesses that receive lots of incoming call traffic from customers can find it challenging to keep up as they grow.
An IVR can handle the most basic calls by answering common questions and directing customers to the appropriate departments. This allows you to reduce the number of salaried or hourly employees dedicated to answering phone lines each day.
In addition to cost savings, you can also give customers immediate assistance precisely when they need it. If they need help on a weekend or in the evening, an IVR can answer many of the questions they might have and during business hours, customers won’t be forced to wait for a live operator.
One common complaint about menu-based phone systems is that it’s too easy to get lost in many layers of options. If you lean too heavily on IVR, you risk subjecting your customers to death by a thousand automated responses.
IVR menus can also be frustrating to navigate. If a customer finds the system doesn’t understand the information being recited repeatedly, that customer will soon want to speak with a live person, so be sure to offer that option.
There are lots of IVR software options on the market today, many of which are cloud-based. Here are a few to consider:
- RingCentral – With prices starting at $24.99 per month, RingCentral works with traditional IP-based phones and through an app installed on a user’s smartphone.
- Callfire – In addition to IVR, CallFire offers text messaging, voice broadcast, and a cloud-based call center starting at $99 per month. A pay-as-you-go model is also available.
- Five9 – Five9 can integrate with a business’s CRM solution to create a contact center. Pricing is provided on a customized basis.
- InContact – InContact’s solution features IVR, Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), and workforce optimization tools. Customers pay only for the services they need.
When used smartly and sparingly, the benefits of IVR technology far outweigh the downsides. By choosing the right IVR-enabled call center software for your company, you can improve productivity and reduce operating costs without sacrificing great customer service.