The Crucial Role of IVR Systems for Enhancing Customer Interactions With Your Business

    Bridger Insurance Services is an auto insurer in California and Texas. The company recently decided to provide interactive voice response (IVR) to improve the customer experience for its customers. 

    This solution provides customers with the convenience of automated inbound payments and the ability to easily check their policy status. It also helps with automated phone and text outreach. These services can help reduce late payments and policy cancellations.

    It’s not the first company to invest in IVR, and it definitely won’t be the last.

    Research and Market recently released the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems—Global Strategic Business Report. It predicts that the IVR market will grow from an estimated $4.9 billion in 2022 to $9.2 billion by 2030. That’s a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.3%. 

    The report also analyses segments like touchtone-based and speech-based IVR systems, projecting growth rates of 7.8% and 9%, respectively.

    The thing is, businesses are continually seeking innovative ways to optimise efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. IVR systems stand out in this regard. So, why is IVR so important for customer-facing businesses?

    What is IVR?

    The journey of IVR systems has come a long way from traditional button-response telephony to modern, speech-enabled platforms. Today, IVR serves as a dynamic tool, allowing businesses to automate processes, streamline call routing, and enhance customer experiences.

    Understanding the basics of IVR is crucial. It encompasses a range of services, from automated voicemail messages and call routing to website, database, and CRM integrations. IVR eliminates the manual work of answering calls, offering a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to optimise their operations.

    The core of IVR technology lies in its ability to understand and respond to caller inputs. It originally relied on Dual-Tone Multifrequency (DTMF) signals from keypad presses. However, modern IVR systems use voice recognition and artificial intelligence (AI). This evolution allows callers to interact more naturally, contributing to a seamless and efficient communication process.

    Advanced IVR platforms leverage speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies. That significantly reduces the need for customers to press buttons. This not only enhances the user experience but also allows for a broader range of interactions, from basic inquiries to complex transactions.

    Key Applications of IVR

    Customer Service

    One of the primary applications of IVR is in customer service. It’s especially useful if your business is growing rapidly. IVR systems offer a quick and scalable solution to reduce wait times when customers call. It can also field customer queries, and route calls effectively.

    Payment Processing and Collections

    Another common use of IVR is automating payment transactions. You can use the technology to provide customers with billing information, account balances, and payment processing options. That helps reduce the need for manual intervention and enhances efficiency.

    Marketing and Communication

    Outbound IVR plays a role in marketing efforts by alerting customers about promotions, new products, or upcoming appointments. IVR serves as a valuable tool for engaging with both potential and existing clients.

    Features to Consider When Implementing IVR

    Authentication Methods

    It’s important to choose the appropriate authentication methods for your IVR system. Here are the commonly used ones for you to choose from.

    Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA) Questions

    This type of  authentication relies on a piece of information shared between you and the user. If they can provide it, that means they are likely to be who they say they are. 

    This method doesn’t cost a lot and is quite easy to implement. The callers know their information and the fact that they would be asked for it. That’s a good way of managing expectations and reducing frustration.

    However, as we know, KBA methods are notoriously insecure. User information can be guessed or stolen.

    And, that’s not the only drawback of KBA. If the speech recognition function of your automated IVR system is not sophisticated enough, you’re limited in the types of questions you can ask your callers. Plus, secure passwords—which are a form of KBA—are not always easy to speak out.

    And, with data storage being a requirement, this authentication method might not be very easily scalable.

    Personal Identification Number (PIN)

    A PIN is easy to remember (easier than passwords even) and cheap to implement. However, they are a significant security risk. Since they are a sequence of numbers, they can be easier to “crack” than passwords, which can have letters and special characters as well.

    As a single-factor authentication method, they are quite weak. They are subject to data breach, and also often sold on the dark web.

    One-Time Passcodes (OTP)

    An OTP is a temporary passcode that’s generated at the time when access is requested. Unlike knowledge-based methods, this one is based on possession. It relies on you physically having a registered device on which the passcode is sent.

    It’s more secure than KBA methods because the knowledge is valid only for a single session. However, it might be considered cumbersome as it requires the user to manage an IVR call at the same time as an incoming text message or a mobile/email notification.

    Also, it’s only as secure as the user’s mobile device. If that’s stolen, the thief can use it to get the OTP. It’s also compromised if their email account is hacked.

    It may also prove to be more expensive to set up and maintain, especially if you get high call volumes.

    Biometrics (Voice Recognition)

    The previous authentication methods relied on something the user knows or has (a bit of information or a registered device). Biometric authentication relies on something they are, like a thumbprint or retina pattern. Of course, in an IVR scenario, the relevant biometric marker would be their voice.

    Using voice recognition can be very cost-effective and can be extremely secure. However, some callers might not be able to use it due to physical disabilities or medical conditions. You also won’t be able to implement it if your contact centre is solely reliant on DTMF and not a speech-based IVR/IVA. Then, there are also the concerns about a business saving the customers’ personal information.

    Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

    As you’ve seen, each of the previous methods of authentication comes with potential disadvantages. However, if used in combination with each other, they can mitigate some of the drawbacks and provide more comprehensive security.

    Moreover, MFA can mean more friction in the customer experience. It may also require additional hardware and software. These could increase the overall cost.

    Integration and Analytics

    Integration capabilities are crucial for seamless IVR operation. You need IVR systems that facilitate:

    Database Integration: Access to and retrieval of customer information for personalised interactions.

    Website Integration: Connect IVR with online platforms for a cohesive customer experience.

    CRM System Integration: Instant access to customer history for efficient issue resolution.

    A robust analytics system is vital for optimising IVR performance. Consider IVR systems that offer:

    Dashboard Features: User-friendly interfaces allowing easy navigation and control.

    Real-time Analytics: Immediate insights into call volumes, response times, and system efficiency.

    Custom Reports: Tailored reports providing specific data relevant to your business needs.

    Performance Metrics: Metrics like average handle time, call resolution rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

    By selecting an IVR system with strong integration and analytics features, you can enhance customer interactions. At the same time, you also gain valuable insights for continuous improvement. The seamless integration of IVR with existing systems and the ability to analyse performance data contribute significantly to achieving business goals and ensuring a positive customer experience.

    However, you also need to ensure that your IVR system is properly optimised. Companies like Occam Networks should be able to help you with that.

    IVR systems have become indispensable for businesses aiming to provide efficient and customer-centric services. By automating processes, reducing response times, and enhancing security, IVR contributes to a seamless and satisfying customer experience. As the business landscape continues to evolve, investing in a well-designed IVR system is not just a technological choice but a strategic decision to stay ahead in the realm of customer interactions.

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