Even as online channels such as live chat are fast becoming preferred ways to communicate with brands, a whopping 81% of customers in the US say they use the telephone regularly to engage. As a result, investing in your telephony infrastructure to improve the customer experience is still a great idea.
As a brand, the first point of a phone interaction with your customers is frequently at your IVR.
Customers largely link their frustration in dealing with brands to the IVR system. Given that, a well-designed IVR can go a long way in creating a strong first impression and can smooth the customer journey. Despite this, antiquated, static IVR systems remain in existence, forcing every customer through the same introduction and menu hierarchy regardless of their need. To meet and exceed your customers’ expectations, consider implementing an IVR system that is intuitive, intelligent and dynamically reactive to individual needs.
What is a Dynamic IVR
A dynamic IVR system is one that changes the call flow based on explicit or implicit context provided by the caller. At the start of a call, your customer is prompted to provide information, or alternatively information is obtained automatically by matching other variables – such as the phone number (ANI) or location – to proactively identify them. As they gather information, IVRs build a picture of the customer, their requirement, and modify the IVR menus.
Having identified a customer, this dynamic IVR technology can then connect with a CRM or other contact center systems to analyze previous interactions and adapt the flow accordingly. For example, consider a customer that is calling the second time to resolve a billing issue. In a static IVR menu, the option to connect to the appropriate department may be the fifth option, leaving your customer listening to four options on every call before hearing the correct choice. This can cause frustration as customers waste time listening to irrelevant menu options. The dynamic IVR, however, will recognize prior interactions and offer the option to connect to the appropriate department much earlier in the IVR hierarchy.
Today’s savvy customers do not always start and end their interaction on the same channel. The interaction may start online, and then transition to a phone call. A dynamic IVR system, through omnichannel integration, can identify these cross-channel interactions and adapt the telephony menu options to reflect this. In many cases, such omnichannel integrations do not come built into the IVR. However, industry leading solutions can enable these omnichannel interactions and modify the dynamic IVR menu on the fly by leveraging context from across channels. Such integrations take the dynamic IVR’s capability to a whole different level.
Benefits of using a Dynamic IVR
A dynamic IVR can provide significant customer experience advantages. At the same time, it can directly impact contact center efficiencies as well. Below are the major advantages of using a dynamic IVR.
Customers can benefit in many ways from your organization implementing an advanced, dynamic IVR routing system. Using insight gained either automatically through the call flow or by individual customer input, a more personalized, contextual service can be provided.
The IVR system becomes increasingly intelligent the more information it receives and this, in turn, benefits the customer by anticipating their individual need. By linking current cross-channel behavior and previous interactions, the dynamic IVR system is able to anticipate where the customer can be best served.
Shortened Customer Journey
By using an IVR menu personalized to their needs, customers will spend less time interacting with your organization and more time benefitting from your products and services. The call flow will be shortened, as customers are likely to hear the option most relevant to them first, allowing them to access an appropriately skilled agent or the correct self-service area far quicker. In a recent survey conducted across four major global markets, most customers cited getting their issue resolved quickly as the most important part of customer service. This further emphasizes the importance of implementing a dynamic IVR system capable of reducing time spent within the IVR itself.
By directing customers toward appropriate self-service areas, the customer journey can also be eased by allowing customers to take control over less complex queries. For example, customers can quickly and easily check account balances, track shipments or make reservations without intervention from a live agent. This benefits customers by allowing them to quickly and easily resolve issues on their own. They are no longer required to wait in a queue to speak to a live agent and can complete tasks at any time, even when the main contact center is closed for the day or over weekends and holidays. Other customers using the center for complex queries can also benefit, as they will encounter decreased wait times with other customers contained and served within the IVR. Live agents will be freed up from handling relatively simple, repetitive tasks and able to handle more varied and complicated queries.
One of most often repeated frustrations for customers using the telephony channel is having to repeat information. This happens most frequently when the customer is handed off from one internal IVR to another. Dynamic IVRs can either share authentications or share context directly or through integration solutions and react in real-time to reduce or eliminate the need for customers to re-authenticate or repeat their information. Any information obtained can be carried through the entire call and ultimately presented to a live agent, along with account information and prior interaction details.
Repetition should not only be considered across single channels. Customers, on average, use four separate channels when interacting with a brand, and it is extremely likely that an interaction or transaction will be started on one channel and finished on another. A genuine omnichannel solution will connect these previously siloed elements of the customer journey, further decreasing customer repetition. For example, a customer attempting to finalize a purchase through an online channel should be easily able to complete it via the telephony channel and an advanced IVR without the cumbersome necessity of having to re-enter information.
Organizations will also reap the results, with quantifiable service and quality metrics improving across the spectrum. The dynamically adjusting, person-focused IVR system will obtain information through the call flow and link to previous interactions. Enabling faster resolution through relevant self-service options, routing customers to the right agent queue, and prioritizing customer care all have distinct organizational benefits. Such details can then be presented to the agents on screen, leading to faster interactions with fewer questions aimed at data verification.
A well-designed dynamic IVR increases efficiency and decreases costs. More calls will be routed to the correct agent and appropriate calls directed to self-service areas. This will have the effect of lowering your contact center’s Average Handle Time (AHT) in a productive manner. In addition, with more self-service, call volume will reduce as well. With call volume and AHT being the primary drivers of your staffing, you can decrease employee costs.
Getting customers to the correctly skilled agent will increase the First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate, as customers receive the appropriate service on their first interaction. This enhanced experience will positively impact Net Promoter Scores (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) results. These metrics are considered industry standard and reflect great customer service.
Prioritizing the Right Customer
Certain organizations can benefit from utilizing priority queue functionality based on personalized data: it is not often said out loud but not all customers are created equal. For example, higher value customers can be placed into a higher priority queue based on their personal circumstances and information obtained in a dynamic IVR environment. Advanced priority queuing can mitigate the possibility of these queues receiving a spike in demand becoming detrimental to other customers. To ensure that callers in lower priority queues are not left in an IVR wilderness, a time-in-queue determination can be made to avoid unacceptable wait times for lower priority calls. Thus dynamic IVRs can help strike a good balance between servicing high value customers first and not ignoring the rest of the customers at the same time.
Both your customers and organization can benefit from a dynamic IVR implementation. Customers will receive a personalized, contextual service, which adapts to them and their individual needs, and will feel engaged and empowered by the journey provided to them. They can save time by taking control of simple queries through effective self-service direction and they will be able to seamlessly cross channels without having to repeat account information time and again. They will experience a smoother, faster service, which is tailored to them.
Organizations will see measurable improvements to their customer service quality metrics, as customers are better navigated through interactions and directed to the best area for their query. Information gained through the IVR can be provided to live agents, making interactions faster, and with customers far more likely to be routed correctly, there will be fewer internal transfers. This will reduce your Average Handle Time and call volume, meaning there will be a lower requirement for live agents, allowing you to deploy your skilled resources more efficiently across channels. Finally, valued customers will be more satisfied with your service and more likely to recommend your brand to others, protecting and growing your customer base.
In developing omnichannel solutions, companies are investing in digital technology to enhance the customer experience and set themselves apart from competitors. Whatever path your technical transformation takes to enhance the customer journey, consider your IVR a key part of it. A dynamic IVR system could be the customer service differentiator you are looking for.