What Is Interactive Voice Response

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Jaqueline Corradi
Jaqueline Corradi
Content Manager

Do you know what is Interactive Voice Response? Also known as IVR, this can be the solution to help optimize customer service via calls. It allows you to automate recorded answers when a customer calls the company.

Probably, you have already experienced calling a call center and waiting for several minutes until getting to talk to someone to solve a problem.

With the IVR, that wait is reduced because the system is automated to help solve problems according to what you need, without having to speak with an attendant. If necessary, though, you will be redirected to one. Check out the article to learn more about it.

What Is Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can be defined as an automated phone system technology. When someone calls a company, they will hear pre-recorded messages made to assist with what they need.

The person will answer some questions by typing on the phone keyboard or by voice and the IVR will take action based on that. It will assist the customer all the way, provide the information they are looking for, and transfer the call to a human assistant if necessary. 

The interactive voice response has the purpose of optimizing customer support and avoiding people having to wait too long to be assisted. It's a solution recommended for companies that receive a big volume of calls every day, and to provide more efficient and faster assistance.  

This way your customer support team won't be stuck with issues that could be solved through automated messages and can focus on what really matters. Besides, the IVR will redirect the messages, according to the answers, to the correct department so the customers don't have to be transferred multiple times until finding the proper help. 

How Does Interactive Voice Response Work?

The Interactive Voice Response system functions in a very simple way. When the customer calls the company, they will hear the greeting and then be redirected to the service menu, which is presented by the IVR. 

After that, it's possible to use two different types of technology, Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency  (DTMF) or voice recognition. With DTMF, the person will use the phone keypad to select their options, while with voice recognition they will give oral responses to choose what they want. 

There are also IVR advanced systems equipped with modern voice recognition technology, which can process full sentences. In those cases, the caller can say what they need in their own way, instead of only repeating a word. 

For example, an IVR that uses DTMF technology could ask you to "press 1 to see the bill". On the other hand, an IVR system with voice recognition would tell you to say bill to see it. While with an IVR advanced system you can say "see the bill", and it will understand your request. After that, the system will process the answer and move on to the next action. 

To implement an Interactive Voice Response system, you will need:

  • Telephony equipment;
  • IVR software application;
  • Database;
  • Support infrastructure.

The telephone needs to be connected to a computer where the IVR software has to be installed, then it will run the Interactive Voice Response to your calls. Before installing the IVR, though, you will need to record the messages that are going to be automated. 

Interactive Voice Response Benefits

In the image it's written "We hear you".

Besides understanding what is Interactive Voice Response, it's also important to know the benefits this system provides, and how it can impact your company positively.  

Enhance Customer Experience

Making a call to a company and having to wait a long time to be answered is frustrating, isn't it? Just like you, customers are looking for effective and fast responses, their time needs to be valued. 

When you implement an IVR system, you can reduce their time on calls to your company. Instead of waiting to talk to an agent, their problem can be solved through automated processes. 

With the self-service mode, the customer chooses what they need and is quickly oriented on how to proceed. They don't have to wait until an agent is available to take the call, which improves customer experience considerably. 

But, to offer a great customer experience, it's essential to think carefully about the answers the IVR system will provide. They must be assertive, direct, clear, and give effective solutions to the customer, otherwise, they will continue feeling frustrated. 

Your Company Looks More Professional

The Interactive Voice Response helps to improve your company's image. It shows that you invest in technology to offer the best service to your customers and that you care about them. By enhancing the customer experience the way people perceive your company changes too, and your brand is seen as more professional.

You avoid having customer complaints regarding the time waiting on calls, which is one more reason for your target audience to choose to buy a service or product from your brand. It gives you credibility since it indicates your company is committed to delivering effective customer service

Save Time

With IVR, your customers and employees save time. The customers have their issues solved through an automated process or by being transferred to the appropriate department, instead of talking with several people until getting to the right one.  

On the other hand, your employees don't waste their time by answering thousands of calls that aren't directed to them and transferring them. They will be able to give full attention to the customers' issues. Besides, when a call gets to them, they already know what it is about.

Optimize Agents' Work

Enhancing productivity is certainly a challenge that companies from multiple sectors are looking to solve. The IVR system prevents your customer support team from having to answer all the calls made to your company.

They won't have to deal with issues that can be solved through pre-recorded messages, which saves time and enables them to structure their work better, focusing on more important tasks. They can dedicate their attention and efforts to dealing with more complicated matters, and finding the best solutions for customers, which increases the customer satisfaction rate. 

Reduce Errors

As it's an automated system,  with IVR you avoid problems like one agent having to deal with a high volume of calls at the same time and ending up transferring them to the wrong department or answering a customer without being polite. Through Interactive Voice Response, the caller will follow a predetermined path based on their answers, therefore, reducing errors. 

Where Interactive Voice Response Can Be Applied

In the image it's written "Support".

Customer support is undoubtedly the main area where IVR is used, but this system also has several other uses and can be implemented to improve different types of services. 

In the healthcare area, IVR is used not only to offer customer support but to optimize other tasks too. Patients can answer pre-treatment questionnaires through it, give their feedback, and schedule appointments too. 

Education institutions use IVR to enable students to check their grades or their parents to follow up on their children's performance and attendance. Finance institutions commonly implement IVR to enable their customers to check their account balances, loan application statuses, debts, and much more via phone. 

Start Using Interactive Voice Response

Now that you know what is Interactive Voice Response and the benefits it has, what about implementing it in your company? You will see how IVR will help you improve customer service, and guarantee customer satisfaction.

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