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The New Baseline for Customer Service: Connectivity Across Channels
What is Customer Journey Mapping? And Why is it Important?

Using Customer Journey Reporting and Analytics to Improve Your IVR

September 26th, 2016

Some may consider IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems yesterday’s technology, however, they are far from obsolete. Why are IVR systems still relevant and essential to your business? What role does the IVR play in your overall customer journey? Most importantly, how can you ensure you are getting the most from your IVR and that it has a positive impact on your business?

In short, the IVR is a series of menus and basic operations your callers are provided upon dialing your toll free numbers. Often, the IVR is able to collect information about your customers’ needs and help direct their calls to the proper agents.

The IVR has historically been (and continues to be) relevant to your business in that it can increase efficiency and reduce operating cost within a customer engagement center. It does this by reducing overall call volume to agents through self-service options, and by lowering transfers through “exit reason” routing to deliver the call to the properly skilled representatives. Not all consumers have adopted the internet or mobile devices as their preferred service channel. IVRs will continue to be appropriate front end treatment for this large demographic of consumers who still prefer service over the phone.

The “customer journey” is the series of interactions the customer goes thru while engaging with your business. The IVR is often the first point of contact that sets the tone for the interaction or for the remainder of the journey. Even for consumers that prefer Web, chat or mobile apps, some matters still require a live agent interaction over the phone, either because the topic is too complex or because the conversation may require recording for regulatory or other reasons. Regardless of how the customer gets to the IVR, it is critical that the IVR interaction is a positive one.

American Express states that over two-thirds of customers say they are willing to spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service. In fact, these customers are willing to spend an average of 14% more. A bad IVR experience can easily factor into buying decisions.

The IVR is the initial interaction and the company’s first chance to make a good impression, however, a lot of their potential goes unrealized because users typically don’t have the patience to navigate through multiple levels, or deal with the frustration associated with speaking to a machine. 24/7 Customer, Inc. found that 37% of consumers who ended a business relationship did so out of exasperation with the IVR. These figures along with the growing trend of “talk to a live agent” ads indicate mounting pressure for IVR technology to be dynamic and personalized to capture callers’ interests and attention. For example, the IVR system of a banking institution might provide the same greeting and options for a middle-aged business owner as it does a sixteen-year-old high school student opening her first checking account. This is not an effective service strategy for any brand.

Customer journey reporting and analytics leverage terabytes of customer data to refine current and future interactions in IVR systems and other service touch points. These solutions provide the context agents and service systems need to anticipate customer needs, proactively cross sell and ultimately drive brand loyalty.

Consider the following:

John, a middle aged business owner with a personal credit card, checking and savings account through his bank calls into the system. Using customer profile information and previous engagement analytics, the IVR can anticipate that John’s menu should include options to: check his accounts, learn about retirement planning services and hear more about the bank’s small business credit card. If John always selects the option to check his balance first, eventually the IVR could learn to play the balances for John before offering him his other choices.

Marketing Metrics recently found that the probability of selling to an existing client is 60-70% while the probability of selling to a new prospect is much lower, a mere 5-20%. Customer journey solutions capitalize on this relationship and create personalized IVR systems that become prime marketing and customer service real estate. The IVR is also a great place to market your website or mobile applications capabilities. They shouldn’t be oversold, but over time you might convince even the most stubborn consumers that self-service options are worth trying.

Businesses can maintain their competitive edge by combining their journey knowledge with customer journey reporting and analytics. It’s not enough to look at the IVR in a vacuum and see what prompts are chosen. In our example, customer journey analytics helped the IVR systems anticipate which menu options or welcome messaging would be most useful to John. It’s likely he would be a good candidate for retirement planning services and the bank’s small business credit card while Jane, a high school student, might be interested in opening a savings account or financial services for college students.

From the engagement center perspective, a dramatic shift in channel flow indicates certain issues – perhaps there is a faulty IVR prompt and customers are dropping off. This would trigger a traffic spike in another channel, such as email. Real-time knowledge of this spike can initiate more timely resolution. In another instance, if there is a high rate of customers escalating from the IVR system to a call with a live agent, it could indicate that IVR menu options that are confusing and need to be reconfigured.

Without customer journey solutions, businesses miss countless opportunities to turn IVR technology into a user-friendly channel and effective marketing platform. Effortless service in a personalized and efficient IVR system engages customers and makes them feel like their needs are understood. Receptive of these efforts and appreciative of them, a Rosetta Study found that these engaged customers are seven times more likely to respond to promotional offers and six times more likely to believe the brand is worth more than they pay for it.

In a world where consumers are willing to switch brands after a single poor experience, an effective service environment is critical like never before. When businesses vanquish common service pain points like IVR systems, they differentiate themselves from their competitors and inspire loyalty. Customer journey reporting and analytics solutions can help businesses turn existing IVR technology into a personalized marketing tool and efficient service system with which customers willingly engage.