Some may consider IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems yesterday’s technology, but it is far from obsolete. 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.
Are IVR systems Still Relevant and Essential to your Business?
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.
What is the Role of IVR in the Customer Journey?
The IVR is often the first point of contact that sets the tone for the interaction for the remainder of the journey. Even though some customer service issues can be handled through chat or email, other matters still require a live agent interaction over the phone. Regardless of how the customer gets to the IVR, it is critical that the IVR interaction is a positive one.
In a study by PWC, 73% of people stated that customer experience is a very important factor in purchasing decisions. 43% said they would pay more for convenience and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. This shows that every interaction your customer has with your brand matters. It takes one encounter to shift the projection of the likelihood for them to continue doing business with your company. A single bad IVR experience can affect a customer’s buying decision…and not in a positive way.
How Can You Leverage IVR to Make a Great First Impression?
We have all heard it before. “Make a good first impression because first impressions are important.” The IVR is your company’s chance to make that great first impression to your customers. Even with this, many businesses miss the mark. 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 talking to a live agent indicates the mounting pressure for IVR technology to be dynamic and personalized to capture caller’s interests and attention. You wouldn’t want a bank to 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.
Customer journey reporting and analytics leverage terabytes of customer data to refine current and future interactions in IVR systems and other service touchpoints. These solutions provide the context agents and service systems need to anticipate customer needs, proactively cross-sell, and ultimately drive brand loyalty.
Imagine this. 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 only 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 application capabilities. They shouldn’t be oversold, but over time you might convince even the most stubborn consumers that self-service options are worth trying.
Optimize Your Customer Journey Reporting and Analytics
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. He would likely 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 a 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 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.
Differentiate Your Contact Center with IVR
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.
If you want to transform the way you track the customer journey to deliver a great customer experience, Schedule a Demo with our team.
This blog was originally published on September 26, 2016 and has been updated for clarity and with the latest information and research to ensure accuracy.