Used by many industries today, interactive voice response (IVR) is a cost-effective means of interacting with potential and existing customers. IVR allows them to perform a variety of functions, such as making bank payments, purchasing items, receiving test results from a hospital or clinic, or learning more about a service.
IVR is also an important piece of technology for call centers. It enables them to move through contact lists with more efficiency and to field incoming calls to the right departments.
The Introduction of IVR
When IVR was first the 1970s, it was an expensive system and with rather limited functionality. But over the years, thanks to continuously advancing technology, IVR systems grew to be essential components of many call centers and businesses. Additionally, the AI has also become much more intuitive.
The IVR voice was once described as clunky, robotic, and having “limited intellect.” Now it is friendly, lifelike, and difficult to discern from an actual human thanks to a wide range of responses and reactions meant to mimic a real person’s conversational abilities.
This matters because present and future customers are more likely to react in a positive manner to what they believe is a live person (or at the very least, sounds like one) and react negatively to a robotic voice that can be easily discerned. No one wants to listen to a sales pitch from a cold, emotionless metallic voice.
Common Uses of IVR
Although the technology offers a wide range of capabilities, IVR has proven to be invaluable for certain types of functions, including:
- Collecting information from callers on incoming calls so that the caller can easily perform a variety of functions without needing to speak to a live agent, or, if a life agent is necessary, routing the call to the proper department.
- Pre-qualifying callers to improve efficiency, time management, and conversion rates.
- Giving the recipient of a call the opportunity to be placed on the “do-not-call” list without having to waste agent time.
- Presenting the recipient of a call with information regarding a product or service, subsequently warming the customer and determining if they would be interested in hearing more.
4 Ways IVR Affects Your Conversion Rate
Savvy marketers today know that the more “real” qualities an IVR voice exhibits, the more likely to improve a conversion rate. Additionally, the more intuitive an IVR program, the more effective it will be in meeting the customers’ needs. That’s why many businesses today are making sure to upgrade to more sophisticated IVR systems. Older IVR systems simply don’t have the intelligence, features, and voice to interact with the customer as successfully as the newer technology. Consider the following ways a new IVR system can better improve your conversion rate.
1) Improved Marketing Capabilities
IVR can serve to increase brand awareness and deliver new offers or promotions to the customer. IVR systems can also be utilized to work in conjunction with marketing and advertising promotions on the Web, in print, or on the radio. Using a special call-in phone number provided in a call-to-action, customers can call in and interact with the IVR to enter a contest, receive more information about a promotion, or make a purchase.
2) Improved Appointment Reminders
If you work in a service-based business, a lot of time is spent calling customers that already have appointments simply to give them an appointment reminder. An IVR system can handle that task, leaving desk agents and receptionists free to perform a multitude of other duties. The IVR can even schedule appointments or accept cancellations.
3) Lead Routing
Inbound callers can easily perform a variety of functions all without having to ever talk to a live agent, saving your own operation substantial time and money while also improving conversion rates. While also successfully determining the interest of customers on cold calls and routing callers to the right department, IVRs make it simple and less frustrating for the customer who certainly doesn’t want to go through a long process of boring automated commands.
4) Payment Processing
Also saving your company employees a great deal of time is advanced payment processing through IVR. Consumers can easily make payments, receive payment reminders, or check balances. In addition to saving you ample time, it serves to improve conversion rates because it allows the consumer to call in at their own convenience, rather than having to call in during business hours and wait to speak to an agent.
While some consumers might still be critical of IVR systems, one cannot deny the improved convenience it offers them for a multitude of daily functions. A professional recording and an advanced, intuitive system can cost a bit of money at first, but over time, as conversion rates improve, workplace efficiency improves, and ample time is saved, the initial cost will be worth its weight in gold. If you are still using an older IVR system, upgrading could be the key to remaining competitive, better appreciating the customers’ needs, and ultimately improving your share of your target market.