What Is IVR and 6 benefits of using one in your call center
The US Interactive Voice Response (IVR) market is currently estimated to be $1.17 billion in 2022, and is projected by a recent report from ResearchAndMarkets.com to reach $1.65 billion by 2027, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.12%. Another report by 360 Research indicates that the Global Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate during the forecast period between 2022 and 2029, reaching multi-million dollar levels.
Clearly, IVR is a growth asset which is gaining in popularity. But what is IVR exactly – and how does Interactive Voice Response benefit organizations that use it? These are the issues we’ll be considering in this article.
What Is IVR (Interactive Voice Response)?
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response, which is an automated telephony system capable of collecting information on callers, interacting with them, then routing their calls on the basis of this interaction. Typically, callers interact with an IVR system by entering appropriate combinations using a keypad dialer (“For help with your account, press 1”), or by speaking their intentions to a system that uses speech recognition and/or Natural Language Processing (NLP). The IVR system may provide responses to the caller in the form of simulated voice output, a call back, fax, email, or other contact methods.
In terms of the underlying technology, an Interactive Voice Response system may consist of telephony hardware, application software, a database, and relevant support infrastructure. Organizations may install and manage this equipment in-house, or outsource their IVR needs to a technology and service provider.
Using an IVR system, organizations can create prerecorded greetings or menu options which callers can access through the keypad of their phone. With access to relevant data on each caller and with Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), IVR systems can then hand off a call to the person or department within the organization most relevant to the caller’s issue. In this way, organizations can use IVR to automate inbound and outbound calls, and to route calls without the intervention of a human switchboard operator.
For organizations that incorporate IVR in their call centers, the technology provides a number of other benefits, including the following:
1. Interactive Voice Response Reduces Waiting Time for Anxious Consumers
According to McKinsey research, when contacting brands, 75% of online customers expect help within five minutes. HubSpot Research suggests that ninety percent of customers rate an “immediate” response as “important” or “very important” when they have a customer service question — with 60% of customers defining “immediate” as ten minutes or less.
The lesson to learn from this is that, while anxious consumers may be willing to wait a short while before an agent attends to them, they won’t wait indefinitely. Organizations must therefore strive to make waiting times for call response as short as possible.
A well configured Interactive Voice Response system can greatly reduce the average hold time for each customer. With an intuitive IVR menu, callers can be routed directly to the department or agent that can best resolve their needs. Ideally, this can mean answering calls on the first ring, thereby reducing waiting time for the customer and cutting call volumes for the organization.
2. IVR Provides 24/7 Access to Your Support Services
Today’s consumers also expect to be able to contact the brands they deal with any time, and from anywhere. While customers are more likely to seek out interaction with a live agent for complex issues, they also appreciate opportunities to resolve issues for themselves, if the technology is available.
With an IVR system, you can be assured of providing at least a basic level of customer service, at any time of day — either through direct contact with support agents during normal business hours in various time zones, or via an easy to understand menu of self-service options.
3. IVR Increases Agent Productivity
At a basic level, Interactive Voice Response frees human call center agents from the onerous task of having to field and route incoming calls by hand. This enables human agents to concentrate on higher value and more specialized activities that directly assist callers with more complex issues, or help in meeting the objectives of the business. IVR technology can also serve in place of humans by answering Frequently Asked Questions or by providing commonly requested information that doesn’t require high levels of critical thought.
The combined effect of these benefits is that call routing using Interactive Voice Response empowers contact center agents to prioritize the most urgent calls, and filter calls to the agent or department whose skill set is most appropriate for dealing with customer issues. This leads to increased overall efficiency and better first-call resolution rates.
4. IVR Provides Self-Service and Multilingual Options
We have already noted that many of today’s consumers like the option to solve problems or get the answers for burning questions on their own. An Interactive Voice Response system gives you the ability to configure problem-solving routines that make this possible, without the caller having to wait to speak with a human agent. IVR systems powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP) and speech recognition engines also allow callers to explain their problems or queries in their own words.
For organizations that deal with international customers or locally-based consumers who speak a range of different languages, there are Interactive Voice Response systems that offer multilingual options and settings.
5. IVR Provides Financial and Labor-Saving Benefits to Your Business
Since Interactive Voice Response effectively eliminates the need for human switchboard operators, organizations that use IVR can save on the labor costs of employing such workers. At the same time, by efficiently and accurately routing incoming calls directly to the person or business unit most qualified for dealing with them, IVR helps to optimize the time and effort of support agents, while boosting customer satisfaction. Research by Super Office suggests that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience — so providing this level of service also reaps financial dividends.
In addition to this, Interactive Voice Response systems are designed to handle large call volumes, and can scale with your organization as market conditions and demand change. This means that you can continuously address customer needs and provide customer satisfaction, thereby helping to improve customer loyalty and retention rates — which ultimately translates into greater profits.
6. An IVR System Boosts the Profile of Your Organization
A professionally designed and well-configured IVR system can give callers the impression that they are dealing with an efficient and high-profile organization that values their time and takes their problems and concerns seriously. This applies no matter the size of your business — so even smaller-scale enterprises can use IVR to project an impression of professionalism and courtesy that puts them on a level with larger competitors.
For larger-scale businesses, Interactive Voice Response systems can assist in maintaining consistency of approach to customer service throughout the organization and provide the tools needed for handling enterprise-level call volumes.
Whatever the size of your business, call quality remains a critical ingredient of the customer service mix. With a Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) arrangement, you can bring a network carrier of your own choosing, to add to your existing phone system. For example, IDT’s BYOC is compatible with all major communications platforms and provides increased global coverage while providing superior voice quality and the highest Quality of Service (QoS).
If you’d like to learn more about how IDT can assist in your Interactive Voice Response efforts, get in touch with us.