In today’s world, interactive voice response (IVR) systems are practically inescapable. Every time someone calls a customer service line, they are greeted not by a person at a desk, but by a virtual receptionist listing off the familiar prompts: “For English, press one; para Español, oprima dos.”
But if not to annoy callers, what is the purpose of an IVR?
A well-designed IVR can make your business more efficient, and here’s how:
- Skills-based Routing: A virtual receptionist with multiple levels of prompts can help customers get to the representative they need quickly, reducing or eliminating wait times, transfers, and escalations. For example, a caller who chose English as their language, identified that their call was about billing, and provided their account number can be connected to an English-speaking representative in the billing department who already has their information pulled up and ready to go.
- Collect Caller Information: Any information that a caller provides within an IVR system can be shown to the representative they are connected to, speeding up the customer care process. Each input into the menu prompts is recorded and saved to the caller’s record, allowing agents to see trends in calls and offer personalized assistance.
- Queues and Queue Callback: Sometimes, waiting to be connected to a company representative is a necessary evil. During periods of high call volume, it’s almost inevitable that a caller will have to be placed in a queue. But there are certain virtual receptionist features that can help make waiting more pleasant. When handled poorly, on-hold music can make the most patient caller cringe. But what callers listen to while waiting can be leveraged to make their experience better or to advertise relevant company products or services. Another feature to consider in an IVR is queue callback, which allows callers to hang up while still holding their place in the queue. Then, when an agent is available, they can be called back without needing to keep the call active, allowing them to turn their attention elsewhere.
- Self-Service: Virtual receptionists can be configured to provide callers answers to basic inquiries. If someone were calling to ask about store hours, the IVR can be set up to provide that information without having to engage with a company representative.
- Prioritize Callers: It’s important to keep high-value customers happy, and by configuring your IVR correctly, they can be given high priority to get them in touch with an agent faster.
- Improve Company Image: Because so many large, respected businesses use IVRs, using one can help boost your business’s image. Customizable greetings, menu options, and hold media allow your messaging to be cohesive throughout the customer service and sales cycles.
Not only can IVRs help your business be more effective and efficient, they can also elevate the customer experience. With shorter wait times, more personal interactions, and a system that reflects your branding with every aspect, virtual receptionists could be your business’s next tech upgrade.