Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Creating Custom IVR Applications for Your Contact Center

June 17, 2019

When most people think “IVR,” they think of the basic inbound IVR systems that, frankly, don’t do the modern IVR justice.  Today’s IVR systems can do much more and can truly be turned into corporate assets, without becoming a burden to contact centers or an annoyance to customers.  Going far beyond traditional call routing – Press 1 for John, Press 2 for Johnny, Press 3 for Jonathan – custom IVR applications can be developed that will benefit both businesses and their customers.

Better Customer Experience

Today’s customers place a premium on self-service.  Even if they aren’t ultimately able to resolve issues on their own, they have shown a desire to attempt using self-service applications before contacting a live customer service representative.  Using custom IVR applications, including intelligent routing, information retrieval, transactional interactions, and even outbound customer engagements, businesses build better relationships with customers while empowering them.

Increased Efficiency

Because so many tasks can be automated using custom IVR applications, customers are able to receive answers, perform actions, or resolve problems much more quickly than if they have to wait for a live agent.  Likewise, agents no longer have to spend time handling situations that can be easily answered through IVR.  Instead, they are able to focus their efforts on more complicated questions and problems that really aren’t suited to IVR or other self-service options.  The entire contact center gains efficiency and customers are able to reach resolution faster.

Contact Center Productivity

Contact center success is built on know how to serve customers, which relies on data.  Contact centers have access to all that data thanks to integration with any number of other business applications and databases.  As a result, custom IVR applications can be built to automate many tasks that have traditionally required manual processing and engagement.  As a result, contact centers become operationally much more efficient and can accomplish more without taking on additional expense. 

Custom IVR applications can be developed to accomplish a vast array of objectives in the contact center.  Some of them perform traditional IVR functions, while others help automate new processes to enable greater engagement with customers and drive efficiency across contact centers.

  • Call Routing – IVR applications can perform simple call routing, but they can also be built to handle much more complex routing policy.  They can factor in any number of variables, from previous interactions, customer value or loyalty level, recent purchase history, and even sentiment, to identify the best available routing option – including whether callers should be sent to live agents or remain in the self-service system.  Call routing applications allow contact centers to more efficiently handle high call volumes.
  • Access to Information – Access to information is one of the most common uses of IVR.  It allows businesses to provide commonly requested information – or almost any information today, with the use of text-to-speech technology – without requiring live agent intervention.  This can be anything from account balance inquiries to job assignments for technicians to store hours and location, and much more.
  • Data Collection – There are many instances where businesses need to collect information.  Custom IVR applications allow them to perform those tasks using a familiar medium that allows them to easily identify themselves and their objectives, and then collect data using push-button responses or speech recognition.  Uses can include account information updates, political polling, customer feedback surveys, and more.
  • Transactional Interactions – Today’s IVR systems – assuming they are compliant with appropriate regulations – are able to initiate many kinds of transactions that handle financial or PII data.  They allow businesses to allow customers to perform these transactions conveniently, ensuring a higher level of satisfaction.  Applications might include credit card activation, making account payments, medical record updates, and of course making purchases.
  • Proactive Engagement – Using customer IVR applications, businesses are able to proactively engage customers for any number of reasons, but ultimately to provide them a higher level of customer service without customers having to initiate interactions.  The result is higher satisfaction, increased retention, and new revenue opportunities.  Use cases include appointment reminders and changes, emergency notifications, upcoming payment date notifications, prescription reminders and authorizations, and more.

The bottom line is that, while IVR may have built a bad reputation, its modern version is capable of engaging customers in many ways and enabling them to perform many tasks they would otherwise have to wait in queue for.  These custom IVR applications are a way to increase customer engagement and satisfaction, enable them to use self-service options, and deliver better service to those that do find it necessary to speak to live agents.  If you’re not using custom applications to make the most of your IVR system, you’re not taking advantage of all it can offer.

AI is becoming a valuable tool in creating more efficient and effective internal and customer interactions.  Future of Work Expo 2020, February 12-24, 2020, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, will focus on how artificial intelligence and machine learning are augmenting manual processes to drive better workflows and engagements, and ultimately allowing businesses to operate more effectively by allowing human employees to focus on other, core tasks.  Register today for Future of Work Expo, and in you have a complelling AI use case to share with attendees, we'd love to hear from you.

Edited by Erik Linask