We've all been frustrated by landing in "voicemail jail" or being abandoned on indefinite hold. But interactive voice response (IVR) systems are improving along with the technology available to small business.
Many businesses with a high volume of customer calls implement interactive voice response technology to improve customer service. Interactive voice response, or IVR, allows a company to reduce its number of employees by using a voice recognition software program to handle certain types of customer calls.
It's not uncommon to find companies using some form of IVR technology in the workplace. One of the industries this technology dominates is telecommunications.
Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and DTMF tones input via keypad.
Short for interactive voice response, a telephony technology in which someone uses a touch-tone telephone to interact with a database to acquire information ...
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Enterprises are increasingly turning to IVR to reduce the cost of common sales, service, collections, inquiry and support calls to and from their company.
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Jul 24, 2014 ... What Is IVR?IVR, or interactive voice response, is a what allows phone systems to process touch tones or voice waves during a telephone call.
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IVR telecommunication systems take your company's phone operations to a more professional level. These types of automated systems allow you to design a phone response that is tailored to the caller. An IVR system can ensure that your phones are always answered, respond to customers in multiple languages, and provide basic answers to common questions with a recorded response. Engaging your customers in a system they can navigate prevents the frustration customers often feel when they call your business and receive a busy tone. IVR systems can also help control the costs of employing live phone operators, improving your company's bottom line.
An IVR system is a simple way to automate telephone customer service. According to research from ContactBabel, about 56 percent of businesses use IVR as a first point of phone contact for their customers.
Increased customer satisfaction
This type of system can answer calls in multiple languages, so customers can choose to use the language with which they are most comfortable. You can also set up an IVR system to address known callers by name. Some systems also have speech recognition capability, so customers can have their needs addressed entirely by the IVR system. Your customers will also never encounter a tired or cranky call center employee if you have your IVR system installed.
Unlike human phone operators, an IVR system never takes a break. This allows you to handle customer service calls at any time of day or night, making you available to customers from all time zones. Customers don’t always need to talk to a live person. An IVR system can help with simple tasks during the times when no human is available to take customer calls.
Using an IVR system saves you the cost of employing a bank of human operators to take calls. The human operators you do have can handle priority calls or special circumstances that the IVR system cannot assist with. Because the system can also pick up the phone on the first ring, it also maximizes the number of calls you can take.
You can use an IVR system no matter how large or small your company is. In fact, using one can make your small business seem much larger than it really is. You can set up separate voice mailboxes and lines so that customers don’t realize the business only has one or two employees. As your company grows, you can scale up your IVR system to handle internal communications as well.
Your telecommunications system can benefit greatly from IVR. With the correct system structure, IVR can route your customer support phone calls to the right person or department and provide enough automated information to handle certain simple requests for information. However, there are a number of pitfalls you should try to avoid when implementing this system for your business.
Inability to skip to a live person
One of the most significant issues is designing a system that forces the customer to sit through multiple menus before receiving an option to speak to a live person. IVR systems are marketed based on the ability to manage your customers, but some customers simply want to speak to a person. Preventing your customers from bypassing the system can have a greater impact on your profitability than the cost incurred by giving the customers direct access.
One of the problems with some IVR systems is the way the menus are designed. Some systems have menus with too many options. Other systems place too many menus between the customer and a live representative. You should make your menu system as simple as possible. Many customers forget the earlier options if the menu list is too long. Certain customers will hang up in frustration if the menu system keeps giving new selections. Careful system architecture is needed if you want to implement a system that does not frustrate your customers.
Inability to respond early
Another pitfall to avoid when implementing an IVR system is not allowing the system to accept key entries except at the end of a menu. Repeat customers are often familiar enough with menu selections to press the required key immediately. If your system forces customers to sit through the entire menu before making a selection, it may lead to frustration. Some customers may end up in the wrong place by enabling this functionality, but the decrease in overall frustration should make the option worthwhile.
IVR is one manner of communication used by many telecommunications agencies. There are close to 11,000 companies that make up the telecommunications industry in the United States, according to FirstResearch.com.
IVR transactions can cost your company up to 80 percent less than if you were to use live operators. According to BuyerZone.com, an IVR system may cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per port. However, some advanced programs can cost $10,000 or more. If you need to upgrade or buy more advanced equipment later on, these costs will increase. Each time you add an employee, you will also need to take the cost of the port into consideration.
An IVR telecommunications system is an investment in advanced customer management. With this type of system, you can make a small business seem as professional as a major corporation. IVR systems engage customers and efficiently route them to the person or department they need. Even when your business is closed, the IVR system can answer calls and provide basic recorded information, which can help customers feel like they accomplished something. These sorts of systems can frustrate some customers, however, especially if you prevent them from immediately reaching a live person or make them navigate complicated menus to achieve their goals. A good way to decrease the level of frustration is to ensure that customers can enter a menu response early to skip through the recordings.
Does your company currently devote a lot of its resources to handling calls from customers and clients? Could your business benefit from an automated system that could provide most callers with the services that they need? If so, then you might want to consider learning more about the advantages of an interactive voice response system.
An IVR could help reduce costs for your business by eliminating the need for a large call center. When an automated IVR handles most of your calls, you might find that you can reduce your staff size without negatively affecting customer service.
Many systems can also help call center employees by gathering information that makes their jobs easier. Some systems can use call responses to determine which department should receive the call. This reduces the amount of time that customer service reps spend transferring calls from department to department.
Once you decide to install an interactive voice response system, you will need to explore the various options to help you decide which one suits your needs best. Business.com provides the links on the left to make this easier for you. Explore these websites to learn more about the features that you might want from your interactive voice response system.
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