Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems were initially introduced as a cost savings measure. The voices were robotic, artificial, difficult to understand and often resulted in poor customer satisfaction.
Modern IVR systems have evolved dramatically. When used properly, they can be an effective tool for developing an omni-channel customer experience. In this excellent Twilio article, Purva Adke describes some of the best ways to integrate IVR into your overall customer experience strategy.
1) Call Deflection to Text Based System
Ms. Adke explains that although call deflection may sound like call avoidance, when coupled with a Short Message Service (SMS), IVR can actually improve the customer experience and allow more customers to be served in less time.
Most people are familiar with the call screening process that is routinely handled by IVR systems. This process is called “call deflection” in which calls are routed to the appropriate department or agent within a customer service department. Conventional call deflection is most often populated with prerecorded “context driven” messages that may include standard responses to frequently asked questions.
The interactive SMS/IVR system works like this: A customer calls into an 800 number and after indicating that the reason for their call is to check on the status of an order, they are asked if they would like to follow up via text. They are immediately sent a text from an automated bot that delivers the current status of all orders tied to their phone number, and the resulting follow up process can be completely handled via text. If necessary, a link to a live agent can be clicked on from the text message. Most millennials actually prefer texting over talking on the phone so they are more than satisfied with this interaction and your agents are freed up to work on more complex issues.
2) Surveys Using Dynamic IVR
A second way to incorporate IVR into your strategy is to create a front-end information gathering system into your customer surveys. The front-end system uses voice recognition or tones generated by a customer’s phone to direct a customer to the survey that is most appropriate for them.
Here again, more customers can be served in a shorter amount of time and customers avoid the standard draw down associated with menu driven systems. Questions can be tailored to the customer on the phone by linking to both internal and external data bases.
The survey system can be easily linked to previous customer interactions from a CRM or similar systems and with the use of Big Data can even draw on publicly available information about the customer to tailor the experience. The feedback from the surveys are instantly available to other systems and to service management teams who can use the information to respond to individual customers or improve overall service levels.
By using what is called a “data dip”, the survey can even be modified in process. For example, if you are conducting a survey about a recent customer interaction, the IVR system can access all recent orders and ask questions about a particular product the customer recently ordered. If the product was returned, questions can be tailored to why the product was returned or how the return process worked.
3) IVR and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another technology that has evolved to a level that allows users to provide much higher levels of customer service. Coupling AI with IVR, you can actually allow customers to solve many problems on their own with little human interaction required.
Using an Application Program Interface (API) you can create “conversational assistants” to help your customers get what they want without ever actually talking to someone. Your customers call in to place an order and are greeted with an AI driven IVR system that can draw on databases of information tied to a customer’s phone number that includes all order history.
For example, if customers are calling to order a pizza, an IVR system can do a quick caller ID lookup to see that the customer last ordered a large thin crust pizza with pepperoni and onions. The IVR could ask the customer if they want to order the same pizza as last time and if so, route the order directly to the kitchen with no human interaction required. If the customer wants to order something else, the IVR system can offer choices, allow the customer to make their selections and deliver the order to the kitchen with no need for interrupting the counter person who is taking an order in store.
The Glympse platform includes an IVR Service that integrates easily with any modern IVR. The Glympse IVR Service answers the “Where’s my delivery?” question, and your customers don’t have to wait for or speak to a live agent. It can also be integrated with customer care tools to incorporate Glympse data into an agent desktop or standard workflow. This high performance service is configurable to return only the information you choose to reveal – ETA, representative information, delivery information, phase status, etc. To learn more about our service, please listen to Warren Wilcock, our Senior Solutions Engineer, discuss in this video.