Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, is an integral function of any business that needs advanced routing in their phone system. An IVR system is an automated routing solution that allows a caller to have a call routed based on options given to the caller by a pre-recorded menu of selections. When you call a business and hear something like ‘dial 1 for sales, 2 for service, 3 for accounting…’ you’re in an IVR. Without question IVR has greatly improved efficiency with those businesses that use it.
The Benefits of Using IVR
- Increased employee efficiency – a full time receptionist is not needed to answer and route calls, freeing that employee to do other tasks for the business.
- Improved call routing efficiency when connecting calls to the right person or department.
- More control given to the caller to reach the person or department they’re trying to find.
- For small or new businesses IVR give the caller the impression that the business is larger an more established than they really are.
- Improves sales leads conversion – once a prospect is identified, an IVR can further qualify that lead by asking a few questions. Based on the choices the prospect makes, the call can be routed to the appropriate salesperson.
How Does IVR Work?
- A business, usually with the help of their phone service provider, will design how they want incoming calls to be routed.
- A voice recording is made to match the options the business wants to offer their callers.
- The provider configures the call routes to match the recording.
- The desired phone number is routing to the IVR call routing table configured by the provider.
- When an incoming call is answered by the IVR, the caller gets a voice response from the phone system.
Understanding IVR and Call Queues
Call queues are very sophisticated ways to route incoming calls and are used in call center, or what’s known today as contact centers. And, you can’t have call queues without IVR’s. Any business that has products or services that require a real time voice call with a customer service representative will use an IVR/contact center product, unless the business is really small and doesn’t have the budget or staff.
Key Benefits of Call Queues with IVR
- Skills based routing – IVR is configured to route callers to a specific call queue that’s best equipped to assist that caller. The simplest example of skill-based routing would be ‘dial 1 for Spanish’. This guarantees that the caller who most likely speaks Spanish as a first language will be speaking with a representative who is fluent in Spanish.
- Customer support availability always on – members of a call queue can log into out of the queue which means that a work schedule can be set up so that when an IVR routes a call to a queue, a representative will available to take the call. The best example is a business that offers 24×7 live support. Different shifts of support personnel can log in and out based on their time shift.
- Fair distribution of calls to queue members.
- Prevents queue members from missing customer calls.
- Fewer calls on hold means greater efficiency.
- Sophisticated call tracking software, real-time and historical, help managers coach and improve queue member performance.
IVR Impact in Covid and Beyond
Covid has impacted every business in the world in myriad ways. In communications it has forced cloud service providers to develop apps that allow remote workers to access the business phone system. This is particularly important for those support people who members of a contact center. Fortunately, cloud-based contact centers and their IVR systems deliver very sophisticated tracking and employee management tools to businesses that need them.
While many businesses will return to their pre-Covid office environments, others will not. Hosted IVR and VoIP service have advanced to a point that the remote worker has everything he or she needs to do their job well.