Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Innovative Ways to Make Visual IVR Work For You

June 24, 2019

With all the attention on new digital channels for customer engagement, there is a misconceived notion that voice is no longer a viable customer service channel.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as voice still remains a primary communications option in many situations, including customer service.

Most voice engagements start with an IVR system.  With today’s modern IVR platforms, that’s not a problem.  Well-designed IVRs with integration speech recognition and Natural Language Processing capabilities can help solve many customer issues quickly and is helping erode any misconceptions about IVR. 

But, digital technology is also creating opportunities to evolve the IVR experience beyond voice, with Visual IVR, for instance.  Visual IVR merges IVR with digital technology, bringing it to smartphone and other digital device screens to give customers a user-friendly and easy-to-use self-service alternative to voice.  Not only is it useful in situations where voice calls would be disruptive, Visual IVR also reduces time to resolution because of the ease of reading and clicking, as opposed to listening to IVR prompts. 

Visual IVR effectively turns traditional IVR trees into clickable representations on screens that allow customers to navigate any number of self-service capabilities to access information, update accounts, make payments, make or change appointments, or any number of other tasks.  In fact, Visual IVR enables many more self-service actions than traditional IVR because it enables easy and accurate data entry and collection of data, which can then trigger additional processes internally.

Because many engagements begin with customers looking up contact information on websites, Visual IVR can be easily integrated into existing customer service solutions.  Phone numbers on websites can be replaced by “Contact Us” buttons that launch the Visual IVR application.  It can be integrated into mobile apps as a customer service or contact function.  It can even be offered as an option within voice IVR systems, allowing customers to receive a text message with a link to the Visual IVR app.  Of course,

customers should still be given the option to call customer service at any time.

There are many ways companies are already using Visual IVR to create better customer service experiences.

Troubleshooting – Both service technicians and customers themselves can have access to Visual IVR scripts that help solve problems with their products.  Service techs are able to find information quickly on specific problems and receive prompts as to how to resolve issues, while customers may often be able to resolve their issues without even requiring a service appointment.  In both cases, Visual IVR reduces customer service calls and reduces the need to explaining problems and steps already taken repeatedly.

Product Activation/Registration – Many products require registration for activation or warranty coverage.  Visual IVR gives customers a simple, easy to navigate interface that allows them to submit their product information and active their purchase or register it for coverage.  This is quick and easy replacement for traditional phone calls or mail-in alternatives.

Incident Reporting – Power outages, gas leaks, cable outages, inaccurate electric meter readings, and other similar issues result in heavy inbound call volumes.  These can often be very easily communicated through Visual IVR applications, which trigger additional actions for technicians, response teams, account reps, or other appropriate personnel.  Customers, however, do not have to wait on hold to report their incidents and are able receive faster response thanks to automation, which can also prioritize events based on urgency.

Appointments – Visual IVR provider an easy mechanism for scheduling or changing appointments.  Customers can be alerted via email or text message, or even phone, that they have an upcoming appointment or that they need to schedule one.  They can then make, confirm, change, or cancel appointments using a visual interface.  The use of digital technology can significantly reduce call volumes for appointments, leaving agents available to handle more urgent or complex concerns.

Insurance claims – Insurance companies can enable customers to report incidents using a Visual IVR script that lets them start the claims process and can even allow them to attach photos using their smartphone cameras.  The claim initiation process is expedited thanks to the integration of customer records, allowing the provider to connect the phone number with covered vehicles – and of course allowing for alternate information to be provided as well when needed, such as if a traffic accident occurs in a rental vehicle.  The entire digital process is completed quickly and customers receive immediate confirmation of the claim and, along with follow-ups from the carrier.

Travel reservations – Travelers frequently have to make, amend, or cancel their flight, train, hotel, rental car, or other travel related reservations.  These can often be complicated by a high volume of calls, particularly when they result from flight delays or cancellations.  Visual IVR allows customers to adjust their itineraries without having to wait in queues, and allows automated systems to use real-time information to provide the best possible outcomes.

Collections and payments – When accounts are past due – or even in cases where customers need immediate transactions to keep up – they often call companies.  Visual IVR gives them the opportunity to perform the same actions digitally, using secure, compliant Visual IVR applications that allow instant transmission of payment details.

There are only a few of examples of how Visual IVR can be used to reduce the burden on call centers, while bridging the IVR and digital worlds to deliver a better customer experience.  There will always be a need for human agents, and customers should always have the opportunity to easily reach them, but automation technology can simplify many of these interactions and allow customers another option for conveniently achieving their objectives.

Using non-invasive digital interfaces, Visual IVR eliminates the need to listen to lengthy IVR menus, reduces repetition of information thanks to digitally collected data, and reduces hold and call times, all leading to shorter engagement times and better resolution.

For businesses, it means a cost reduction due to fewer calls and zero outs, as well as lower voice IVR costs.  Visual IVR also means live agents are able to focus on more urgent or complex customer needs, increasing their level of satisfaction and creating a more efficient customer service organization, overall.

Edited by Erik Linask