Interactive Voice Response

What is self-service IVR?

By Mike BanbrookDecember 14, 2021

The bar is high for today’s contact centres. Customers always want to feel that they are in control of the information or resolutions they’re seeking, which means long and indefinite waiting times to get the help of an agent just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Self-service interactive voice response (IVR) is all about giving your customers the power to resolve their own queries and issues in the fastest time. Essentially, the technology allows contact centres to increase efficiency by providing callers with services for which don’t require a live agent, consequently lowering costs such as those associated with staff headcount, training, and time on the phone. Self-service IVR can be a win-win for both contact centre operations and their customers.

A downside of traditional self-service IVR solutions is that they ask callers to select from a series of options or a menu. This limits the options that can be accessed and leaves customers who are unsure of their needs to be transferred to an agent.

Some of the most sophisticated self-service IVR solutions use artificially intelligent speech recognition technologies which help to identify precise caller intents from natural responses and route calls to one of a potentially limitless number of self-serve options. Not only does this dramatically increase the breadth and range of self-service that can be offered but also makes it easier for the caller to find the right option – they no longer need to fit their issue to your options rather they just simply say what they want.

The key benefits of self-service IVR

Lowering call volumes

With incredibly efficient routing offered by AI and speech recognition technology, more customers will access a range of self-service options in one simple step after stating their reason for calling. Ultimately, implementing self-service IVR reduces the number of calls reaching agents because it manages to contain more calls entirely within the IVR, giving agents extra time to focus on other priorities.

Building a stronger brand image

Even if you’re only a small company with limited internal resources or agents, self-service IVRs promise that every customer will be greeted quickly and professionally, and in a way that’s consistent with your brand image. What’s more, with a suite of well-configured self-serve options available across different departments, your company’s customer service experience could be placed on an equal footing with much larger competitors.

24/7 support

Giving customers the chance to self-serve means they can enjoy the added convenience of calling outside your usual staffed hours. Whether it’s midnight on a weekday or a weekend, there’s never a bad time to get something done, solve a problem, or find out information.

Improves customer satisfaction

The biggest appeal of self-service IVR solutions for customers is that they can launch straight into resolving queries without waiting on hold to speak with a live agent. Meanwhile, self-service options that are combined with intuitive guidance and personalisation as part of the automated routing process will also help to drive up customer satisfaction ratings for your business.

Cost reduction

Self-service IVRs can reduce operational costs without having an impact on the customer experience. Simply, while some self-service IVRs use AI-powered speech recognition to mimic the conversational qualities and intuition of a human agent, interacting with an IVR is much cheaper than engaging with an agent.

Scalability

Interactions that stay contained within an IVR are not contingent on the availability of agents and can therefore handle an almost unlimited number of calls at the same time – they can scale to handle your unusual call peaks. Unsurprisingly, businesses that embrace self-service IVR are well-positioned for growth because they’re better equipped to handle influxes of calls without having to hire or train as many new staff.

Common features of self-service IVRs

Speech recognition

While traditional IVR solutions that use DTMF menu options can allow customers to self-serve by pressing the right number, IVRs that use AI-powered speech recognition brings a whole host of additional benefits to customers.

To start with, by recognising caller intent from natural language, there are potentially limitless self-serve options that customers could be routed to. Meanwhile, the ability to capture data verbally can also supercharge the self-serve experience, being the key to other features such as customer verification and allowing customers to complete multiple tasks on the same call with more conversational automated interactions.

Personalised routing

By integrating your self-service IVR solution with other business systems, such as your CRM, your customers can retrieve more personalised self-service options like checking and paying account balances or amending and cancelling subscriptions.

Customer verification

Many self-service options are straightforward, such as allowing customers to find out store locations and opening hours or requests for other general information. But self-service IVRs that can verify callers’ identities open a whole other world or self-service options.

Whether it’s using voice biometrics or speech recognition capabilities to capture unique customer details, customer verification can guarantee the safety and security of more sensitive and complex transactions like payments and account setups.

Digital channel shift

Sometimes, verbal responses aren’t always the best way to help customers self-serve – at least efficiently. For example, imagine trying to receive geographical directions or even troubleshoot technical issues with products through voice.

Digital channel shift enables customers to self-serve using the most convenient and effective channels, such as sending map locations or webpages to a customer’s phone via SMS or delivering product manuals or videos via email.

Post-call surveys

If you’re handing over the reins to your IVR for certain common tasks, it’s important to make sure things are kept in check and that your customers continue to have great experiences. Post-call surveys which capture and record measurables like customer satisfaction levels for a particular task or interaction are a great way to gain insights that might help you improve your existing self-service options or even introduce new ones.

Implementing self-service IVR solutions brings huge benefits for contact centres and their businesses, from minimising the costs of operations and supporting growth to giving customers solid and professional first impressions – even if you are a small business on a tight budget. Importantly, however, there are no compromises for customers because they also open the door to faster resolutions, around the clock support, and more convenient ways to receive information.

Find out more about how to fine-tune the self-service IVR experience by reading our blog about IVR containment rates and how they can be improved.

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