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 omnichannel customer experience.
1) Call Deflection to Text-Based System
Call deflection may initially sound like call avoidance. But, 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’s 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:
Since most millennials prefer texting to talking on the phone, they'll be satisfied with this interaction, freeing up your agents 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. This front-end system uses voice recognition or tones generated by a customer’s phone to direct a customer to the survey that’s most appropriate for them.
Again, more customers can be served faster and 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 databases.
The survey system can be easily linked to previous customer interactions from CRM systems and DMPs to tailor the experience. The survey feedback is instantly available to other systems and service management teams who can use these insights to respond to individual customers or improve overall service levels.
By using 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) has evolved 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 call 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. 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, allowing 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.
How are you using IVR to create a superior customer experience for your customers?
* * A version of this was originally published on glympse.com