“According to HubSpot, 39% of consumers prefer using phone support over any other customer service channel.”

The art of service revolves around availability, scalable solutions, and taking ownership of a customer’s issue. However, the most important factor is availability since all other aspects hinge on this parameter.

Today’s consumers expect companies to meet their demand for speed of service, efficiency, and world-class customer experiences. In addition, phones are both preferred and used twice as much as emails. Phones are also the most popular support option compared to all other service channels.

The Benefits of IVR Systems

Typically, call centers are the initial point of contact for a company’s customers and prospects. However, the use of IVR systems mitigates the need for customer service staff, except when they are specifically required to address a customer issue. This, in turn, enables a business to grow while continuously meeting customer service expectations.

“According to a Zendesk study, 69% of respondents said that they wanted to resolve issues themselves without needing human intervention.”

IVR systems, in a word, revolutionized the customer service industry. Across virtually all industry ecosystems, availability is a 24/7 absolute must, and this level of customer interaction isn’t possible without using an IVR system. Having such dependency on one system elevates its importance and increases the demand for proper functionality, maintenance, and preventative measures.

“According to a Zendesk study, 63% would start by searching for solutions within a business’s digital channels before deciding to call its customer support hotline.”

The Impact of IVR Testing

Though all service parameters hinge on availability, the quality of the service you provide to your customers is a close second. The experience delivered to customers via a call center is critical in customer satisfaction, customer retention, and reducing frustrations or concerns.

This elevates the need for businesses to be proactive in their approach to maintaining their IVR systems. Maintaining proactive IVR testing is vital to a business’s overall success. A proactive IVR testing solution can provide real-time alerts of system failures before they become customer-facing. In contrast, a system without an IVR testing solution can readily fail in production without a company’s knowledge. However, the customers will be impacted immediately. 

“According to Zendesk, 74% of customers feel loyal to a particular brand or company.”

How Does an IVR System Work?

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is a type of CTI or computer-telephony integration. To facilitate IVR technology integration, you will require dedicated IVR software, allowing pre-recorded greetings for your customers and a telephony board. Customizing your pre-recorded messaging enables a tailored response to a customer’s (caller’s) individual needs.

However, from a customer’s view, an IVR system permits them to navigate your call center efficiently and locate a solution faster. In summary, when a customer calls your company, the IVR system will respond by giving them a pre-recorded greeting and asking them to select an option from a set menu.

IVR functionality routes the appropriate customer to the appropriate team member (Customer Service). Thus, resulting in fewer incoming calls for your customer service team to handle while increasing efficiency, productivity and reducing operating costs. Also, it improves the customer experience and enhances customer satisfaction.

“According to a Zendesk study, 52% of customers report going out of their way to buy from their favorite brands.”

Requirements for IVR System Functionality

An IVR system consists of IVR software applications, telephony equipment, support infrastructure, and a database at its basic component level.

Initially, you connect a computer to your business’s telephone line. Next, you install the IVR software onto your computer. At this point, we use a distinctive piece of hardware called a telephony card/board to run the IVR technology on your calls.

Furthermore, to achieve IVR system success, you will require the following:

  • A database with real-time information for the IVR application to access
  • TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) network, which is the standard Internet communications protocol that allows both intranet and internet connectivity.
  • An Application/Web server, which is a location to host the IVR system’s software

Note: Since an IVR system requires a phone system to operate, select call center software that includes features for IVR.

Mapping Out Your IVR

IVR integration with your call center must include mapping before implementation. Mapping allows you to organize and map out your IVR script to interface with your prospective customers correctly. Be sure your IVR map includes:

  • A welcome message (pre-recorded)
  • An after-hours message (pre-recorded) if your system is not on 24/7
  • A language options menu to cater to the various languages of your customer demographic
  • A services menu, e.g., technical or troubleshooting, sales or purchases, or repair. Also, there should be an option to leave a message if the script does not list their specified issue
  • A preset message for standard troubleshooting of common problems or a looping announcement, or music for on hold
  • An option to redirect appropriate calls to active customer service staff

IVR Workflow

Best practices dictate that your business considers the needs of its target customer audience. This includes using this assessment to position the most common options first before expanding the menus for call rerouting.

Reasons to Test Your IVR System

It is always a necessary practice to perform a test of your IVR system before full launch. You should complete the test with your internal team, and it should include the following areas for verification:

Reduce the cost of downtime

A buggy or non-operational IVR with significant downtime will not only cost your business due to client and customer frustration but will also run afoul of any federal regulations that apply to your industry or business.

Verify customer identity

Across all industry ecosystems, there is a significant reduction in in-person support. Therefore, companies must authenticate a person’s identity for security reasons to ensure they are speaking to the actual customer.

Verify call routing

Determine if your customer’s selected prompts facilitated the proper redirect. For example, a customer with a wireless connectivity issue should receive a redirect to the Technical department and not Sales.

Confirm IVR system workflow

Verify if your IVR workflow is following the map design. Also, determine if any areas require improvements, e.g., a need to adjust the number of menu options.

Stress and load testing
Any business using an IVR system will have times of peak call loads that put operations under immense stress. IVR testing systems validate that high-volume days won’t involve downtime.

Troubleshooting problems faster
Any issues with IVR systems need to be sorted out so that those tasked with repair can address problems immediately. An SMS testing tool will send automated outage alerts or otherwise inform technicians about operational issues.

“Fines due to faulty recordings can cost up to $10,000 per incident per line. Non-compliance penalties can exceed $20 million.”

How an IVR System and Testing Benefit Your Business

You can define a customer’s experience in one word, perception. A customer’s perception of your business is the ultimate indicator of their overall experience. To that point, every customer service interaction by your company has a significant impact on the customer experience as a whole. Therefore, the importance of making a good impression at every possible juncture is imperative to your company’s overall business success.  Below we’ve outlined some of the ways an IVR system can improve your customer’s experience and enhance customer satisfaction:

Enhances Customer Service

IVR systems reduce wait times, reduce call volume, provide solutions quicker, direct customers to the correct department, and make customers feel valued.

Provides extended customer access

An IVR system provides customer service on your customer’s terms, even outside of regular business hours.

Allows increased personalization

An IVR system affords extensive personalization, which facilitates better customer engagement and stronger customer relationships. Through IVR technology, a company can provide a more humanized experience to its customers.

Improves your business’s image

Regardless of size, an IVR system helps maintain professionalism and consistency for both call volumes and customer service.

Increases business profitability

The majority of transactions still occur via the telephone. An IVR system reduces labor costs, improves customer retention, and improves resource allocation by optimizing your service member’s time.

Enhances productivity

Since an IVR system routes your calls to the correct department, your service team spends more time helping the right customer with the correct issue. Call routing also facilitates prioritization for the more urgent calls, which improves efficiency and reduces call volume.

Reduces errors

An IVR system reduces mental fatigue during high call volumes. It significantly improves wait times and the overall customer and staff member experience.

“According to Benchmark Data, 68% of customers are annoyed when their call is transferred between departments.”

To maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction, extensive and continuous IVR testing is a critical requirement. This includes closely checking how a customer flows between option menus, verifying the effectiveness of speech recognition, and assessing touch-tone navigation.

An IVR system can liberate your business and the customers it serves. However, the testing and monitoring solution your business utilizes to maintain your IVR system needs to be scalable, provide seamless integration, easy to use, and above all, proactive in its approach to both testing and monitoring.

If you are interested in exploring IVR solutions that scale to your business needs with a self-service approach that puts the control in your hands, consider TelcoAlerts’ suite of IVR solutions.

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