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Using IVR for better customer experience

Interactive voice Recording (IVR) captures user input in the form of a voice or a keypad entry ( DTMF ) and uses it for executing an action which may be as simple as providing balance of mobile phone information or something as complicated as executing a search query on an existing database for generating customized solution for customers. This all happen with a simple voice call using either land line telephone or a mobile phone. Since it is in voice, it can be in any language unlike website or smartphone application which mainly use English!

The idea of using IVR is to broaden the concept of customer service by including the self service option to the customers. In this light the customer is no longer the receiver of customer service but rather the consumer of customer service. By mixing self service and dedicated help lines businesses provide customers the control to shape their customer experience.

This is in cognizance of new trends emerging in customer behavior tilting towards the self service option. The origins of this behavior lie clearly in online buying behavior where buyers are able to fashion customer experience of their choice by availing self service tools available on the e-commerce portal itself. Shopping carts and payment portals are some of the self service options available before the customer shaping customer experience. The idea basically is to self serve routine transactions calling for help only when the transactions are highly complicated in nature.

Customers naturally want to stretch this customer experience to all their business transactions. Customer service is no different. Customers today want more choices. They prefer taking the self service route when it comes to routine queries related to billing preferring to take the assisted help route only when the problem is too complicated for taking the self service option.

Customers calling an IVR number are provided with multiple extensions after the welcome message. Each extension is followed with prompt. After the extensions are read out the system waits for a prompt from the customer. Once the customer enters the input the system checks whether it is a logical entry. If it is not a logical entry it prompts the customer to enter the input again. If the input is logical the system validates the input by reading it back and taking the validation input from the customer’s end. Once the input is received the action is executed.

In order to be useful the IVR plan should take care of every contingency. Not two customer queries are the same. Caller A may want the self service option whereas caller B may want to talk to an agent right away. Sales, Billing, Complaints, Customer Service, IT Helpdesk (if required) should be included in the IVR tree “For sales press 1”, “For Complaints press 3”, “For IT press 4”, etc. Big companies split customer service function into billing, sales, etc, for focuses service and there is no reason why smaller businesses cannot follow that.

Finally, a lot of design consideration should go into the IVR plan because a poorly conceived IVR can lead to bad customer experience. Every IVR should have an exit option for the frustrated customers the form of a direct helpline to a live agent or exiting from the IVR itself.

There are many IVR service providers which give IVR services for client, both on premise and in cloud. Knowlarity is such IVR service provider which design IVR using their platform with aim to enhance customer experience while accessing self help through IVR.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sunder Iyer October 31, 2013, 10:47 am

    Nice Article.Gives us a great understanding on ivr.Thanks a lot.

  • Dhanya November 1, 2013, 4:47 pm

    Cloud based systems and IVR help save lot of cost.
    I took the services from VoiceTree technologies, http://www.voicetree.co.in
    their Services, Support and Automation is indeed value addition to my business.

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