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By Steve Bell -

An Interactive Voice Response solution (IVR) allows you to act on 100% of your incoming calls and route customers to the correct department or agent within your business. This means that they aren’t passed from pillar to post before reaching their destination.

IVR gets a pretty bad rap, how often have we heard horror stories of long winded menu scripts and unclear scripting? When people ring your business they want to get through to someone immediately, they don’t want endless automated voice services telling them that their call is important, they want to click a number and be met with a human voice.

This is what caused me to coin the terms good and bad IVR.

Good vs. Bad IVR

Good IVR – the ethical IVR – is a solution that we like to implement on behalf of businesses to help them improve their call handling. IVR menus should help the customer, not frustrate them. This is why an IVR system from Elite will only ever be built and scripted with your caller in mind.

Bad IVR – the enemy IVR –is actually detrimental to your business and can turn customers away when implemented incorrectly. The top gripe for callers is listening to marketing/sales messages, being placed on hold, listening to more than six menu options (the human brain only has the capacity to remember three or four pieces of information) and bad quality recordings.

Without a good IVR solution many businesses would experience missed calls and customers could either be presented with busy tones, or end up coming through to the wrong department - this wastes the time of the customer and the agent. IVR, when done right, could be the lifeline of your business, we always make sure we mix automatic agents in with human interaction in a way that callers won’t become angry or impatient and waste even more time complaining to your staff.

Elite’s top tips for business IVR

1. Have you considered your brand image? Having an IVR creates a professional image for your brand and with professional voices creates a good impression for your clients on contacting you.

2. How can you reduce potential call volumes? By informing customers of other places where they can source information to questions, such as website FAQs. Be careful not to overplay messages though as this will frustrate the caller if they still wish to speak to someone.

3. Did you know you can reduce receptionist cost? By having an IVR with a virtual switchboard functionality, callers can choose to speak to a person by entering their extension number or choosing a department without the need for the receptionist to route the calls.

4. How do you handle calls outside of normal business opening hours? IVR services can be deployed with functionality to route calls to home workers out of hours to ensure that you never miss a sales lead.

5. What are your current DR routing plans? With network IVR services DR plans can be setup which gives you web control to route calls to a predefined alternative termination number including mobiles, or you can choose to play emergency information messages – ensuring you keep your clients fully updated.

6. Some services CAN be fully automated for clients and still be highly beneficial  – customers wishing to check flight bookings or make fast credit card payments do not have to take up any more time of their own or your agents as these can be done through an entirely automated IVR. We make sure you only fully automate services that reduce call time for each party.

7. IVR services give you full web control over all routing modules, for example if you want to extend your opening hours on busy days to compensate for high call volumes you can do so by using the web control access, you will be able to see these changes live on the system without the need to contact your provider.

8. Reporting made easier - by using the full reporting package available you can deploy peg counts with the IVR service which will allow you to view the effectiveness of your system and how a caller flows through the service. This will provide invaluable information, such as changes that may need to be made, or whether you need to hire extra call agents.

9. How can you improve you call routing if you have multiple sites / branches? IVR services can route calls based on the caller’s location, thus allowing them to be routed to specific departments or specific termination pints based on UK geographic routing plans.

10. Reducing maintenance cost? Reduce onsite maintenance costs by deploying a hosted IVR service which means there are no additional hardware costs and all control over the service is via a secure web interface.

For more information on IVR solutions, don’t hesitate to contact me at Elite to discuss.

Steve Bell's avatar
About Steve Bell

As Elite Telecom’s Senior Corporate Accounts Manager and an integral part of the accounts team for over five years, Steve is often found on the road visiting our customers, updating them of the latest products and innovations within the industry. Steve always strives to ensure that the customer experience is second to none.