Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has made such strides in improving the customer experience in recent years that many consumers are forced to pause and wonder if that could really be a computer on the other end of the line. It’s so intuitive that it can be hard to believe there’s nobody sitting there pushing the buttons on the other end.
Enterprises are aware of how easy it is for a customer to get the experience they want; a competitor is always ready to pick up the slack and outperform your service. As with any interaction with your contact center, whether with a live agent or the IVR system, you must always be on the lookout for ways to reduce the obstacles between the customer and the resolution of their issue. You must make every experience effortless.
The Solution is found in further refinement of your IVR practices. Prioritize implementing technology that removes the friction and reduces the effort required when a customer calls your contact center. It’s important that contact centers look for two opportunities:
- Getting customers on their way to a solution by providing necessary information and tools.
- Getting out of the way of customers that can quickly and conveniently self-serve.
Some of the current popular features on IVR are making these two objectives easier. For instance, customers can access self-serve options that allow them to quickly get an update on their account balance, pay an invoice, or discover details on a promotion.
With a well-appointed IVR, they can also get on their way more easily, reaching the right agent the first time and enjoying first-call resolution of the issue. Contact centers appreciate that they can ensure high-value customers are always attended to by an agent by specifying the path of certain calls.
Another popular feature currently present on IVR systems is the callback tool. When a customer is on hold, they have the option to receive a call back from the system when an agent is available. This feature cuts down on the number of calls that are abandoned and it’s no surprise that it boosts customer satisfaction.
What’s Next for IVR is more of a good thing, essentially. Machine learning (ML) will continue to improve in recognizing patterns, gaining more data, and crawling that data to find customer records. Chatbots will become more intuitive, recognizing more speech and predicting more accurately when a customer needs a specific solution versus another.
Chatbots are particularly effective at gathering information at the beginning of a call. For instance, a patient calling into a specialty pharmacy is able to converse easily with a chatbot to provide an address, date of birth, and basic description of what they are trying to accomplish with their call. If the patient says “fill a prescription,” the chatbot can identify the medication, schedule delivery, and ask if the patient requires additional materials, such as a sharps container or alcohol wipes. They can also let the patient know what their co-pay amount is and which card they have on file for the payment.
If the patient has a more complex question, such as needing to speed to a nurse or pharmacist, they receive that option before the call is terminated. If they have a billing question, the chatbot can recognize a problem it can’t conveniently solve for the patient and transfer the call to an agent, providing conversation history to the agent for fast, easy resolution of the issue.
Automation Is Critical, no matter what technology is used for delivery. The customer experience relies heavily on a contact center’s ability to understand the customer and resolve their issues satisfactorily. While there may be initial resistance to IVR and chatbots, customers often respond positively when IVR is applied in the right situations and agents are ready when IVR isn’t an adequate solution.
If you are contemplating IVR for your enterprise or contact center, there are a few considerations to keep in mind as you evaluate your options:
- Make sure your priorities are focused on improving the customer experience; cutting costs is a short-sighted goal because companies that excel at customer experience are outpacing the competition.
- Focus on using IVR to eliminate friction for the customer.
- Automate what makes sense; use agents for more complex issues.
- Experiment, test, and refine: maybe you’ll notice certain IVR paths that are a bit muddled or certain calls you thought you could automate actually require an agent’s assistance.
As far as preparing for new IVR technology, find out whether your provider is looking ahead to more advances:
- Ask your provider what innovations they have in mind for the future. How are they using chatbots and ML to help contact centers enhance the customer experience?
- Find out what their update frequency is and how they’ll support your contact center with training when new features are available.
Interested in more information related to IVR innovation? Contact us at TelcoAlert for the latest features and tools in contact center technology.