IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is a phone system term that refers to the technology that automates interactions with telephone callers. Many companies are increasingly turning to IVR’s to reduce the cost of common sales, service, collections, inquiry and support calls to and from their company.
An IVR can actually take the place of a full-time receptionist, or anyone who you hire to answer common questions or gather customer information.
Historically, IVR solutions have used pre-recorded voice prompts and menus to present information and options to callers, and touch-tone telephone keypad entry to gather responses. Modern IVR solutions also enable input and responses to be gathered via spoken words with voice recognition. In layman’s terms an IVR is just a recording that gives the caller information, asks them to press a key, or with voice recognition to answer a question, to route them to the correct department, extension, recorded message, or separate IVR.
Many of us are used to getting an IVR or auto attendant when we call a large organization that will help us get to the department, person or recorded message in order for us to get the help we want the fastest. Many poorly thought out IVR’s setup without consideration of the caller send the customer through a myriad of IVR’s until the caller is so fed up they hang up. With a well thought out IVR you can help your caller by giving them the information they need or route them to the person who can help them the fastest.
Here is a list of ways you can use an IVR to help your caller:
- Ask the caller to input their customer id or social security number to route a call
- Ask the caller for their zip code to route the call to the correct store closest to them
- Route the caller to the right department
- Give the caller directions to your store when they choose that option
- Extensions can be routed to the correct individual or department
- Route them to another IVR with more questions in order to get them to the right department or person
- Give the caller the option to access the operator at any time (this is a great option that all IVR’s should have)
- Ask them for an extension to dial to hear a recording (this is particularly helpful to Real Estate Agents who have extension numbers posted next to their For Sale sign)
- Retrieve information on bank balance
- Check flight schedules
- Access Product Details
- Check on an order status
- Hear about product details
- Find out movie show times
- On outbound calls to gather information such as: information for appointments, past due bills, and other time critical events and activities.
Here are a couple of examples of well thought out IVR’s:
Main Greeting IVR: “Thank you for calling ABC Outdoor Play Equipment . If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach, you can dial it at anytime. For sales press 1, for billing press 2, for directions to our store press 3, to access our company directory press 4, and to speak with an operator press 0. To hear this recording again press 9 now.”
Informational IVR: “If you are interested in finding out more about our staff press 1, for directions to our store press 2, for information regarding our return policy press 3. To reach an operator press 0. To hear this message again press 9 now.”
You get the idea.
There are lots of options for what you can do with your companies IVR. You really just have to think of the caller and plan the fastest route for them to follow to get them the information they need.