Can IVR Destroy the Customer Experience? Press 1 or “Say Hello to Visual IVR”

When customers reach out to contact centers for support, they want quick and efficient service. As more and more contact centers strive to implement automation into their customer service strategy, one excellent advance in contact center software has been the innovation of IVR, or interactive voice response. IVR is a telephony system that uses either speech-recognition or touch-tone technology to enable identification, segmentation, and eventual routing of callers to the appropriate agent, bypassing the need to speak to other employees directly. Some contact centers further implement visual IVR to streamline the process even more.

Companies and customers alike may benefit greatly from the advantages of IVR.

First and foremost, companies are able to significantly drive down costs by using such a system. Agents will not need to be trained to find information that the system will automatically provide. This also means that agents will spend less time on the phone with customers as customers do not need to speak to multiple employees before reaching the agent who can ultimately solve the customer’s issue (or close the sale, if it’s a sales call). Less time on the phone translates into savings for the company as it costs more to keep agents connected to customers on the phone. Agents will also be more productive as they will have more time to focus on other tasks or serve customers on other channels. In addition to savings, companies can increase sales through IVR by making it easier for customers to initiate or finalize a purchase through the system. With an efficient system, customers can count on self-service as an option for making purchases, boosting a brand’s image for reliability and customer experience while driving sales.

Customers likewise benefit from IVR by having a less stressful or time-consuming customer service or purchasing experience without the need to speak to multiple agents. Such features as automated speech recognition and text-to-speech in multiple languages can greatly enhance the experience, and dropped calls are far less likely with IVR. In addition, IVR systems with automatic callbacks can save customers’ time when they are kept waiting too long in a queue, and scheduled callbacks that allow customers to decide when to be contacted by a qualified agent are yet another timesaver. Overall, such systems bear great potential for providing a seamless customer experience and giving customers more options for efficient self-service.

The market for IVR systems continues to grow, with Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicting that the global market will reach as much as $2.8 billion by 2017. Through the implementation of an efficient IVR system, companies may offer their customers more choices for connecting with their brands which can lead to greater sales, a better customer experience, and sustained customer loyalty while saving costs and increasing efficiency in the contact center.

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