Every business is always looking to increase its bottom line and looking for the most effective ways to boost productivity to drive profits. That’s especially the case in the contact center world, which has traditionally been a loss leader for businesses, but with modern technology, is being transformed into profit centers.
Among those technologies is IVR, which is not a simple “Press 1 for this, press 2 for that” scenario. Rather, modern IVR is full of capabilities that integrate with other business solutions and processes to make the most of customers’ time on the phone – for both parties. In fact, there are several ways today’s IVR systems can help drive profitability.
One of the biggest wastes of time comes from failing to route callers to the best resources for handling their concerns right away. Part of it is a residual effect of older, limited IVR systems that were not able to leverage speech recognition to more precisely recognize callers’ needs and direct them to the best agents. Instead, IVRs very broadly defined categories for callers to self-identify, which often caused mis-labeling due to confusion or misunderstanding of which category was most appropriate – thus sending callers to the wrong agents. Today’s IVRs are able to interpret human speech to immediately route agents to the best callers for their respective needs, saving time and costs, while keeping customers happier, increasing opportunities for future sales.
Screening & Prioritization
Effective call routing is dependent upon IVR systems collecting caller data and using it to screen and prioritize them based on their issues, prior engagements, loyalty level, specific words or phrases used in a speech-based IVR system, or any other variables that help determine priority or particular agent skill sets needed for faster resolution. The ability to screen and prioritize helps businesses identify callers that have more urgent needs, have already tried to resolve the same problem previously, or are high-value customers. It also allows businesses to effectively identify and route high up- and cross-selling candidates, getting them into sales cycles faster.
IVR systems are ideal for promoting self service options, which allow customers to solve their problems without ever having to involve a live agent, by either finding solutions through the IVR tree or by sending them links to self service web apps using SMS. By encouraging customers to find their own answers, businesses reduce the number of human interactions, reducing costs, but also ensuring prioritized callers receive immediate assistance, increasing satisfaction and reducing costs thanks to a faster resolution. Many businesses are dependent on re-orders or renewals for revenue. IVR systems can identify these customers and guide them through an automated self-service feature for renewals. Outbound, proactive IVRs can even use customer patterns and timelines to reach out to customers with reminders for renewals, driving this important revenue stream.
IVR is an ideal mechanism for collecting customer feedback after purchases, customer service calls, or any other engagements. IVR surveys can be automated based on specific experiences, such as product purchases, and for optimal timing based on the purchase as well as time of day. Collecting customer feedback with automated IVR systems generated valuable information on products and customer service and to drive product and/or process improvements to increase customer satisfaction and, ultimately, revenue.
There’s little question that customers don’t like waiting to get assistance or information, and businesses don’t want to expend any more resources servicing customers than they have to. But, they do want to ensure they deliver optimal customer service. IVR helps handle high call volumes by pre-screening and routing calls the best available agents, increases self service awareness and usage, and can collect valuable post-experience feedback to further improve service quality. An oft-scorned technology, today’s IVR systems can be an important factor in streamlining service, reducing costs, increasing satisfaction, all leading to increased profitability.