With a global pandemic continuing to dominate the ebb and flow of business right now, it’s no wonder contact center traffic is at an unprecedented high.
So when it comes to optimizing those calls, many call center owners and managers are looking to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to help with the influx.
If you’ve been around the telecoms space long enough, you’ll know that IVR isn’t a new concept. But at a time like this, it’s time to look at the fundamentals, and just what kind of benefits they provide.
What is IVR?
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) uses voice technology or DTMF tones via the keypad to allow humans and computers to interact and is normally used to route incoming call traffic.
You’ll have undoubtedly heard something like this before: “Press 1 for customer service, 2 to talk to a human, and 3 to give up and just send an email”. Along with some call center music that may or may not match your refined tastes. You get the idea.
But if you’ve called a more tech-savvy call center, you might have recently been able to just say what you were calling about and have the IVR system route you depending on what you said.
How does it work?
Most phones support touch tones or Dual Tone Multiple-Frequency (DTMF) tones, where keying or touching a number on a phone creates a sound at a certain pitch.
That sound is picked up by a computer on the other end of the call that corresponds the input into a routing command. Pretty neat huh?
If you’re wondering how it’s safe to put your card details into this like you probably have with your bank, the answer is “DTMF masking”.
Essentially, before whatever you typed reaches the contact center, it’s picked up by a unit that converts it to data packets, before sending it on. This allows for the handling of sensitive data without being managed by a human.
What about voice recognition?
Compared to DTMF, voice or speech recognition is a pretty new concept when it comes to IVR. It tends to be received better by customers due to feeling a tad more natural, and if it’s done right, can be a much better experience than pressing numbers a bunch of times.
The downside is when done incorrectly, or like it was done with older technology, you tend to get inaccurate routing or just bad data input, leading to customer frustration.
However, these days, with swish and fancy AI these are pretty much problems of the past. With some newer AI having the ability to navigate multiple menus and find the perfect team to route a customer to, based on the answers they’ve given.
The benefits of an IVR system are pretty straightforward, with just a few being:
- Providing out-of-hours coverage for customers calling at odd times
- The ability to advertise to and inform customers while they wait
- Routing customers accurately without agents having to take the call
- Collecting Information agents need before solving a customer’s problem
- Reducing or optimizing your call queue
So with that in mind, it’s pretty clear that your modern IVR solution is no longer the bane of the irritated customer, and can in fact save quite a lot of time effort, and money in the long run. As long as you keep on top of your metrics, it can be a really easy way to optimize your contact center.