An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is a phone technology that lets callers interact with a computer to get information or assistance without the need of a human operator. An IVR system is widely used by companies to automate certain business transactions and can be an essential tool that can improve how your customers experience your brand.
If you’re looking to utilise an IVR system, here’s how it works and how you can set it up for your own company. Read on to find out more.
What is IVR?
The IVR system is a computer that interacts with callers. It’s a self-help tool that gathers information and provides assistance or routes a call to a specific person or department.
The technology requires human input using a phone’s keypad or speech recognition. It lets computers interact with humans using their phone’s keypad or speech recognition.
You may be unfamiliar with the term, but you may have already encountered the technology several times. Businesses usually employ this system for their hotlines as it improves customer service and can result in more efficient operations.
Using IVR technology, every call from your customer is never left unanswered. It gives you the ability to greet your callers instantly. IVRs lessen your waiting time, which is a common cause of frustrations among customers.
It can also direct callers to the department they need instantly. Because it is automated, you get an IVR call centre that can take customer calls 24/7.
The shortened waiting time, 24/7 availability, and direct access improves your customer service significantly.
What is an IVR for?
Upgrading to this phone technology adds value to your brand. Furthermore, it can help your business by:
- Delivering information without human intervention. Some businesses can provide basic information to a customer through this technology alone.
- Forwarding calls to the appropriate extension. Another aspect of this is the feature to forward calls to the appropriate line extension. Calls are automatically forwarded just by calling the extension number of the person or department you’re looking for.
- Taking human error out of the equation. The software will only process data that matches what is in the system. You get to avoid the mistakes that can happen from human error during customer interaction, leading to dissatisfied customers.
How does IVR work?
IVR for VoIP works by using human input to route the caller to their desired destination. The most common input method is Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DMTF), which uses the unique tones of keypads to inform the computer what option was picked.
The system can have multiple layers to help callers. What and how many depend on how you want to customise navigation. Often, the first layer is the language option, and from there, it varies per business.
Here’s an overview of how it works with DMTF:
Step 1: The IVR system picks up the call
The system will automatically answer all calls from your hotline. A pre-recorded greeting welcomes customers and offers the first option.
Step 2: Customer provides an input
The caller communicates with the software by pressing the key of their desired option. Using the language preference example, callers press “1” for English, “2” for Spanish, and so on. This triggers the system to proceed to the next layer.
Step 3: The system routes the call
The computer asks the caller for the next option. For example, this can be the department the caller needs to be connected with like “1” for Sales, “2” for Accounting, etc. Pressing a number routes the caller to the chosen option.
Step 4: Repeat the process
Depending on the number of layers you have, this process will be repeated until the customer reaches the desired destination. Input will always be required to inform the system of what to do next.
Other Methods of Input
Aside from DMTF, advanced software can use voice recognition as a means of communication. Using the same example for the language selection, instead of pressing the number of the preferred language, callers will have to speak the language’s name.
IVR makes navigating easier as it removes the need to remember each number’s options for every layer. However, you can take this a step further by combining this with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Using AI technology allows a more detailed input using speech analysis. It is similar to how it works with some gadgets nowadays.
An IVR system with AI technology is like speaking to another human being. There will be no need to navigate the system, like skipping to the front of the line to your desired destination.
Effective tips in setting up IVR System on your VoIP phones
While the technology behind it sounds sophisticated, setting it up is not that complicated. Here are a few tips to get your system up and running:
Tip #1: Pre-record greetings and prompts
As one of the first contact points with your callers, your system greeting can leave a lasting impression on your caller. A poorly worded greeting may not be as pleasing as it should, while a well-prepared one can make callers feel good about your brand.
Tip #2: Use a single voice
A single voice for your IVR makes your customers feel like you’re focused on their concerns while using multiple voices can have a negative effect.
Have you ever tried calling customer service, only to be passed from one person to the next? It can be a frustrating experience.
You should also consider the voice quality. Just because a computer runs it doesn’t mean it should sound robotic. Using a pleasant human voice can add life to your program. It also conveys consistency and quality to your customers.
Tip #3: Choose a professional on-hold music
Sometimes it is necessary to put your callers on hold. Playing professional on-hold music can ease their frustration while waiting.
Your choice of music must be pleasant to their ears. Imagine if you were made to listen to loud and inappropriate music, you’d hang up in a second!
You can also use this opportunity to advertise new offerings or make important announcements. It can be an effective way to promote because you have your customer’s full attention.
Nobody likes to wait, but the best thing you can do is make their stay a pleasant and informative experience for your callers.
Tip #4: Limit your options to 5 or less
Choosing what to eat from a restaurant menu with tons of choices can be daunting. The same goes for a system with too many menu options.
A lean menu option helps customers navigate the menu faster and easier, given the lack of visual guides. It allows them to get the information they need in the shortest time possible. Good practice by most companies is to have a maximum of 5 options for every menu.
Tip #5: Create an option to repeat the choices
It’s easy to get distracted while on a call and forget which option you’re supposed to choose. Sometimes you’re unsure which option is more relevant for your query or concern. And there are times that you chose the wrong option.
With the option to repeat menu choices, you allow your customers to navigate to the different options without having to start at the beginning or dropping the call.
Tip #6: Provide shortcuts
There will be instances when your customer wants to talk directly to a customer service representative or a specific person they already know. There will also be times when some concerns or queries can be appropriately addressed by talking to another person.
Having shortcut options solves these problems. Include common shortcuts like dialing the specific line extensions or “0” to talk directly to a customer service agent. It will save you time and prevent your customers from getting frustrated, thus avoiding irate clients.
Tip #7: End calls with a closing spiel
It is always a good thing to end conversations well. You can make this possible through a closing spiel.
This includes thanking your customer for their call or reminding them that your company is always available for other concerns that they may have in the future. These add another human element that can strengthen customer satisfaction.
Speaking of which, allowing customers to provide feedback can be part of your closing spiel. This is useful when making system improvements.
Tip #8: Have an IVR test before launch
Like all products being released in the market, you should test your system before launching it.
Testing allows you to experience first hand how effective the software is. It is also the time to check for technical issues that may prevent an excellent experience for your customers.
Set-up your IVR System with Wave
No matter how you want to customise your company’s IVR system, VoIPTech Solutions can make it happen for you. We offer feature-rich VoIP based communication services such as Wave, a cloud-based plan which includes an IVR solution and other communication tools designed for seamless remote working arrangements.
As experts in VoIP technology, we’ll work with you to provide an easy and worry-free set-up of your new VoIP phone system with IVR features to boost your company’s customer service, business efficiency, and brand image, all of which are valuable assets.
To find out more about VoIPTech and our IVR System, contact us on 0203 745 0201 or send us an email at [email protected]