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What Is IVR (Interactive Voice Response)?

IVR call center management

Create your multi-level interactive voice response (IVR) menu to guide the caller through different options. Make sure they are always directed to the right department, agent, or group of agents and that they are receiving relevant information through customized messages.

CloudTalk’s IVR improves the quality of services provided by your call center software. It automatizes workflows, allowing you to manage your call center’s customer support systems more efficiently. 

Thanks to our Call Flow Designer feature, creating customized IVR is easier than ever.

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What is IVR?

All those who ever called a company or a customer support for sure know the lovely voice, telling: “To speak with our sales representative, press 1…”.  But many managers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs don’t understand the value that this simple tool will bring to their company. So, what is it exactly? 

IVR is an automated interactive voice response system that interacts with the caller. The caller listens to the IVR system menu, responds by pressing a key on his or her phone, and the system reacts accordingly. Based on the caller’s answers, the IVR either provides him or her with the required information (e.g. account balance, order status, etc.) or routes the call to the correct agent.

IVR is used for handling inbound calls. You can set up your IVR based on specific business needs, make your teamwork more efficient, and create a professional customer experience. If a more complex call flow setup is required, a Call Flow Designer tool can help you build one. 

4 Common Use Cases of IVR

We’ve compiled a list of several IVR use cases guaranteed to boost the productivity of your call center. Check them out below. 

#1 Multi-level IVR

Multi-level IVR allows you to create several layers (branches) in your menus. For example, if the caller presses 1 for assistance with a purchase, they will be transferred to another IVR menu with more detailed options, such as: “For claiming a warranty, press 1. For refund, press 2. For assistance with the purchase, press 3”

After callers choose what fits their needs the most, they will be provided with the requested information or connected with a live agent who will help them with their issue. 

Here’s a short video to help you better understand how multi-level IVR works: 

#2 Automatic routing

You can use automatic routing to set specific voice messages and responses in your IVR menu, giving your customers the requested information they need without having to talk to your agents

For example, when callers enter their order number on the keypad, IVR can inform them of their order’s status. This feature can be also truly useful in the banking sector. After customers enter a 16 digit card number, IVR informs them of their bank account balance. Automation pays off since around ¾ of millennials nowadays prefer automated services to direct interactions with people. 

When a caller does want to contact a live agent, CloudTalk’s IVR routes the call to the most well-fitted agent or department.

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#3 Forward-to-phone From IVR

This feature is ideal for call center agents who work remotely. The IVR system forwards clients’ calls directly to agents’ phone numbers. This allows them to address customer queries from anywhere in the world. 

IVR can also redirect calls to another phone number while your company is outside of business hours.

#4 Send calls to voicemail

This feature allows you to route your callers directly to voicemail if they select a specific IVR response. 

By reducing the number of inbound calls your agents have to handle, your team can save up to 80% of their time.

How Can You Benefit From IVR Features?

We’ve introduced plenty of powerful IVR use cases examples, but how exactly can your business benefit from them? Here are 3 major examples. 

#1 Enhance Customer Support Management 

Not routing each call to a live agent, especially when it isn’t even necessary half of the time, makes wonders with your support management. 

By using IVR for recording the information that your callers frequently seek — such as your company’s business hours, address, or contact details — your agents can focus on addressing more complex customer needs.

CloudTalk’s self-routing tool creates benefits for everyone involved. The fact that customers have a choice between listening to pre-recorded information and talking to a live agent boosts their satisfaction rate

#2 Improve Lead Conversion 

Gain new clients easier and faster. Enhance your call center performance and build better relationships. 

Thanks to IVR, you can push leads down the sales funnel more efficiently. Common IVR use cases, such as Multi-level IVR, Automatic rooting, Voicemail tool, or Forward-to-Phone feature, make it more effective for callers to resolve their issues. 

To provide an example, by rooting to the most skillful agent who already has access to all previous interactions, you show the leads that you know them and their inquiries are important for you. That boosts their perception of your company as a professional and reliable one. If none of your agents are available, an option to leave a voice message assures leads that their requests are heard and will be resolved.

#3 Keep Customers, Save Time and Gain Profit

Being fast saves both time and money. Call centers need to eliminate their average solving times as much as possible. A frustrated customer is unlikely to purchase your product and could even abandon you for your competition’s more “customer-oriented” service.

IVR reduces average call duration by 40%. Therefore, you can help customers finish or verify transactions fast

Do so by implementing the above-mentioned automatic routing or a real-time live chat. Speed may be the breaking point that determines whether or not your potential customer actually completes a transaction and raises your profit

Also, satisfied clients tend to make purchases more often, which, of course, helps your bottom line.

5 Common Mistakes of IVR Systems

If you want to benefit from IVR, you need to use it like a pro. Here are 5 common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

#1 Over-complicated Call Flow

According to Small Business Trends, 63% of people agree that poorly designed IVR ruins the overall customer experience, especially if they are forced to hear irrelevant options. 

Your customers are not calling to interact with your IVR endlessly, so don’t make your menu overcomplicated. All options should be clearshort, and straightforward so that callers can quickly and easily navigate through them and have their issues resolved in no time. 

#2 Chaotic Information

Even though your callers need to hear some details from you, we recommend introducing them gradually

Wait for a caller to ask for more information, instead of offering it all upfront and creating confusion in the process.

#3 Long Hold Times

It can be truly annoying for the callers to interact with an IVR menu only to be put on hold. In fact, over 70 % of customers get ‘extremely frustrated’ when waiting on hold for more than 1 minute

You can prevent this by using callback or automatic routing that offers sought-after information.

#4 Low-quality of Voice Prompts

In some cases, generated messages can be difficult to understand. It’s either because the person who recorded them wasn’t a professional, or a cheap text-to-speech software was used. 

In both cases, the quality of your voice prompts will be low and your customers will be left feeling frustrated.

#5 Lack of Agents

Even the best-constructed IVR menus have to offer the possibility of speaking with a live operator at some point. 

Don’t “hide” this option from your callers. Some of your customers might have very specific requests and will want to talk to your agents right away.

Other CloudTalk features that may interest you:

  • Call Flow Designer – This feature empowers you to build custom call flows for your business. Using this tool, you can create more sophisticated IVR chains and ensure your customers are paired with the right agent or department every time. 
  • Callback – Thanks to the callback feature, unanswered phone calls will be a thing of the past for your call center. CloudTalk will automatically call your customers back.
  • Predictive Dialer – Predictive dialer ensures that more customer calls are made in a shorter amount of time. It is an ideal tool for getting in touch with your customers efficiently.
  • Smart dialer – CloudTalk will compile a list of numbers from any website or system and create a calling queue directly in your CloudTalk phone app. 
  • SMS/Text Messages – This feature allows you to send personal messages or general notifications to your customers, making your contact center work much more effectively. 

Curious to learn more about Interactive Voice Response?

You can see the best practices and most common use cases of interactive voice response and observe a top-notch IVR system in action — thanks to our 14-day trial.

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Do you want to learn more about the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) feature?

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