If there’s one interesting trend in customer service, it’s the shift towards self-service. Customers want customer service at their own pace, and that’s what contact centers must provide.
Running an efficient call center means finding a way to deal with mass inquiries in a cost-effective way. This is what options like self-service IVR can provide.
1. Take Out the Repetitive Grunt Work
In most customer service situations, the bulk of concerns comes from common issues that are simple and easy to handle. These are usually things like billing questions, asking for a statement, or pulling up the details of a transaction. The more complex issues that require a more involved resolution tend to be few and far between.
Using self-service IVR to give out the answers and resolutions for these types of concerns will easily take out a huge chunk of your call and inquiry volume. For many of these calls, the inquiry ends there and then with the IVR giving out the information requested or sending out a statement to the caller. A study from Nuance for NYC311 showed that using a self-service IVR resulted in a 25% increase in agent availability because more common calls were handled by the IVR, resulting in huge cost savings.
For more complex questions, customer data is extracted from a CRM system according to the details that the customer provided to self-service IVR, such as his phone or ID number. If the customer needs a live agent, the information is pulled up automatically for the agent, letting the agent focus on the problem instead of asking questions from the caller. It’s a huge benefit to handling time and service levels.
2. Error Reduction
One of the key departments in a contact center is the quality department. There is always a need to measure quality: how correct is the information your agents give to customers, and how well are they following procedures?
This requires a lot of manpower on its own to monitor agent calls and ensure they are doing a proper job. Self-service IVRs are far less prone to mistakes.
A study of Babajob’s IVR showed a reduction of errors to 4% of all questions asked, which is competitive with and even superior to the quality standard many companies apply to their human agents.
Unlike human agents who can make mistakes keying in data or sending out the wrong information, an automated system accessed by self-service IVR makes no mistakes. The customers gets what they asked which is determined by the system. Any inaccuracies are usually the result of programming, which is easily adjusted in one place by the system engineers as opposed to needing quality personnel train and retrain agents on an individual basis.
This is a huge benefit both for customers in getting exactly what they need without errors and for the company in keeping related quality costs down.
3. Effortless Around the Clock Coverage
Another huge benefit of self-service IVRs is its constant availability. Unlike agents which need to take time off for rest days and typically only work eight hours a day, a self-service IVR is available 24/7, all year long unless it is being maintained or upgraded. It also scales up to any number of callers, as far as your bandwidth can handle.
This means that if a customer calls in, they will instantly have a line that can help them. They do not need to wait on hold for an agent to get to their call, and they can access a wide variety of information and solutions at their own leisure. The beauty of it is that it makes customers feel that they are better attended.
That’s less waiting time for happier customers, and time and manpower saved by the company.
4. Wider Personalization
Lastly, modern self-service IVRs have progressed to a point where they can provide a huge amount of customization for the customer. Natural language options are the norm these days and an IVR can take questions from a customer talking naturally without any need to use cumbersome prompts. Better yet, the self-service IVR can be configured to learn from the customer’s previous interactions, creating a predictive response that can offer a customer the information they need before being given a long menu of options to choose from.
The system can also work with other contact points the customer may prefer, such as receiving the information requested by SMS, email, or having a callback scheduled from an outbound customer service agent. Customers can receive the assistance they require at their convenience, at the contact point that suits them best.
No matter the size or scale of your contact center operations, self-service IVR can only benefit the customer experience and company efficiency in the long run. The longer your self-service IVR is in operation, the more it can learn about your customers and their typical concerns. This eventually builds better profiles for each caller.
The information you can provide also becomes better and more accurate. Having a self-service IVR should be a priority for any contact center that wants to provide excellent customer service and to improve company operations.