How Your Business Can Benefit From Interactive Voice Response: The Ultimate Guide to IVR

June 28, 2023

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Customers value speed and accuracy in service. To achieve this, companies often use IVR to handle initial customer interactions.

However, many callers find an automated system frustrating, even though they want its convenience. According to one study, nearly half of callers struggle with IVR systems.

The reason is usually that brands aren’t using the right system or using their system correctly. Take a comprehensive look at what IVR is and how to make it work effectively for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • IVR is an automated technology that allows callers to handle transactions and queries.
  • Successfully using IVR brings numerous advantages, including increased employee efficiency and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Setting up IVR is easy with a hosted contact center provider.
  • Avoid complex menus, long hold times, and impersonal messages to create an IVR system that pleases your customers.
  • Artificial intelligence is rapidly improving IVR and permitting callers to have more natural interactions.

What Is IVR?

IVR stands for “interactive voice response.” The technology is an automated telephone system that allows callers to select menu options using voice response or touch-tone inputs. More advanced IVR systems can handle simple requests beyond specific menu options.

How Does IVR Work?

IVR integrates with other software features in a cloud-based contact center to improve customer support. The service usually combines with an automatic call distribution system to process and forward calls. 

First, callers hear an automated greeting that requests information about the nature of the call. Callers can respond verbally or input information on the keypad. IVR deciphers the response and sends the caller to another section of the menu until the individual completes the task.

If the query requires the help of a human agent, IVR sends the necessary details to the ACD. ACD can then forward the caller to an appropriate agent who has the skills to handle the request. 

What Are the Benefits of IVR?

IVR helps companies handle massive call volumes with fewer human agents. The business saves on the costs of employing more staff. Also, agents are happier because they have reduced workloads and deal with fewer mundane issues.

An automated system also reduces the number of errors in customer service requests. Callers get to the right agents and receive prompt confirmation of the success of their queries.

Also, customers appreciate an IVR that works well. The system allows callers to quickly handle tasks without waiting on a human agent. For example, a customer can check on the status of an account or a shipment.

IVR is also perfect for customers who want additional security or confidentiality. The system can accept payment details and confirm the success of transactions. Clients enjoy the extra security of not discussing their credit card or checking account numbers with another person.

How Do You Set Up IVR?

Modern IVR systems from top communications providers, such as Intermedia, do not require expert coding experience. In a few steps, you can program a multilingual menu.

The best setup is part of a hosted contact center subscription that has IVR features. You use your administrative dashboard to input prompts and menu options.

You can also set behaviors for specific schedules, such as holidays or outside of business hours. With the right communications provider, you can set up your system in as little as five minutes!

How Do You Overcome Common Challenges and Mistakes With IVR?

Customers only hate IVRs that are hard to use. Be aware of common IVR problems and how you can avoid or overcome them.

Overly Complex Menus 

Customers prefer brief and easy-to-understand menu options. Avoid using company jargon or long sentences in menu selections. 

Also, limit menu categories to a few options. Usually, five choices are the most you should have in each section. Try to put common requests earlier in the menu so callers generally move through the system quickly.

Long Hold Times

When many callers need the help of an agent, they may have to deal with long hold times. This situation is usually more common during specific hours of the day. 

You can minimize a caller’s exasperation by using an IVR that has callback features. Your callers let the system know that an agent can reach out later. Then an agent calls once available so the caller doesn’t have to sit listening to hold music.

Impersonal or Robotic System Responses

In a perfect world, customers would be able to reach an empathetic agent who listens to their concerns and presents a prompt and accurate solution. Even clients who prefer self-service and automated features still desire a personable touch.

Ensure that your IVR does not come across as cold and impersonal. Customers who call support lines may already be experiencing frustration, and poorly worded phrasing or an overly robotic auto attendant may irritate them even more.

Pre-recorded messages with a human voice may be better for sensitive or stressful situations. Program your menu options with clear wording that conveys your interest in helping the caller.

What Industries Should Consider Using IVR?

IVR can benefit businesses in many industries. Anyone with significant call volume should investigate using IVR, including:

  • Health Care: Medical professionals can save time and treat patients better with IVR. Clients can receive confidential results, schedule treatment, and fill out questionnaires.
  • Finance: Account-holders can securely handle vital tasks and access details. For example, an individual can modify investment portfolios quickly.
  • Education: Parents and students can get up-to-date reports from schools with IVR. Families can check grades and attendance records.

In addition, a business in any industry where customer service is critical should consider how IVR can help them efficiently support their clients.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Improving IVR?

Artificial intelligence is improving many technologies, including IVR. Your IVR system should have speech recognition features along with natural language processing.

These features improve the system’s ability to understand speech so callers can speak naturally. In some cases, callers can even forego menus and ask the system questions for an accurate response or call routing.

How Does Intermedia Make IVR Easy?

Intermedia makes setting up your IVR simple with Easy-IVR. Send us a message so one of our communications pros can help you design the contact center solution that is right for you.

Mariel Santos

Mariel Santos is the Director of Marketing Communications at Intermedia

June 28, 2023

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