Interactive voice response (IVR) allows companies to leverage sales opportunities while minimizing costs, but comes with its limitations. Most companies only use the technology to direct callers to the most appropriate person or department. However, the latest IVR systems are capable of so much more.
Traditional IVR is Done
Most IVR technology in use today restricts callers to a handful of simple responses. A pre-recorded voice delivers a selection of choices and asks the caller to respond accordingly. While this type of system sees use in the banking, retail, and financial sectors, its full potential is typically not utilized.
3 Techniques for Advanced IVR Usage
However, times are changing and so is the way consumers interact with IVR technology. Continue reading to learn how you can keep up.
1) Qualified Lead Generation
Some of the world’s largest IVR systems handle thousands of calls every day. The latest technology doesn’t just direct these calls to the relevant department. It also identifies potential lost sales leads.
Real World Examples of Advanced IVR Usage
For example, if an IVR system can identify that someone has a problem with a product or service, the call can be directed to a suitable sales professional. Not only that, but the system can identify opportunities for complementary sales and up-selling before it’s too late.
Not convinced? Here are a couple of real-world examples:
A Car Dealership
Imagine you own a company that sells both new and used cars. A customer calls to inquire about a costly engine repair. The system asks a series of automated questions for the customer to answer.
The IVR system then directs the call to a sales professional to encourage a new sale rather than a repair specialist who wouldn’t maximize your opportunity. After all, the most economical course of action is often to buy a new car with an extended warranty rather than continuing to repair an old car.
An Insurance Provider
Now consider that your company sells insurance. A customer calls to inquire about a home insurance claim, and the system asks a series of questions about their other coverage. As a result, the call goes to a qualified specialist.
The difference with this new approach is that the IVR also generates a lead for a member or your auto insurance team to follow up at a later date. Not only are you providing excellent customer service, but you’re also passively leveraging sales opportunities.
Pre-Qualify Leads with an IVR
The latest multi-level IVR systems ask all of the essential yet mundane questions on behalf of your key employees. So when a human eventually takes the call, you can be sure that your customer is in the hands of the best possible person for the job. So-called “warm callers” connect to appropriate sales personnel, and others redirect as you see fit.
2) Improved Customer Experience
One of the main criticisms aimed at IVR systems is their inability to direct calls to the right person for the job. Yes, the call might be sales related, but who is the best sales professional to take it?
Let’s imagine again that your company sells cars. A potential customer calls about a family sedan, so the IVR transfers them to a sales professional who specializes in sedans. However, during the subsequent conversation, the customer reveals a specific interest in electric cars. The employee on the phone doesn’t have the necessary knowledge, so the call now needs to be passed to someone else who does. In this example, the customer would have to repeat a lot of what was said.
Avoid Breaks in Communication that Lead to Churn
This break in communication is, at best, a cause of frustration. At worst, however, it’s a lost sale. An intelligent IVR system could have identified the customer’s preference for electric cars, and directed the call to a sales professional with the most relevant skills and knowledge.
3) Optimized Call Handling
While there are times when you want calls diverted to the most appropriate person or department, there are also times when you want the call handled quickly. After all, someone who has to wait several minutes to speak to a member of your team is likely to hang up and call one of your competitors.
Skill-Based Call Routing
The latest IVR systems use a skills-based algorithm to get calls answered in the most efficient way possible. For example, if call volumes are unusually large, you can choose to have calls directed to the first available online agent.
You can also funnel calls according to the skill level of your available agents. You can direct complicated calls, requiring several answers, to your most versatile employees. Furthermore, you can route more straightforward calls that require no knowledge of a specialized area accordingly.
There are usually times in any business when a query or request requires a highly specific and specialized level of knowledge. At times like these, directing your customers to people who can’t deal with the issue immediately can be detrimental to your business — in terms of both lost sales and lost goodwill.
IVR systems contextualize responses and select the person with the most appropriate skill-set to deal with the call. If that person isn’t available, the second-best employee for the call is selected. This function is commonly known as skill-based routing, and it’s often the difference between an unhappy customer and an unexpected sale.
Keep More Agent’s Busy More Often
You can also program your IVR system to distribute workloads across your team evenly. For example, an agent who has been idle for a while can get a call instead of the employee who finished a call seconds earlier. This system is great for morale, but it also keeps your team fresh and focused.
Are You Optimizing Your IVR?
As you can see, the interactive voice response technology has come a long way since the days of binary choices. The latest systems act as a virtual receptionist — directing calls to the people best placed to deal with them. However, in this case, thousands of calls can be directed in this efficient manner every hour.
Introduce a modern IVR system within your organization, and leverage business opportunities you never knew existed.