Working with Interactive Voice Response Software
Although telephone service providers are ready and willing to help your company with its communication needs, there are times when doing things yourself is more productive. If you are looking to improve your level of customer service, consider using interactive voice response software to give your existing telephone system a high-tech boost.
Keeping customers happy with IVR software
The quickest way to send a client to a competitor is by letting them sit on hold, especially when they only have a few basic questions that need to be answered. IVR software sits at the front end of the telephone system, determining where calls should go and retrieving information for clients after they speak a few voice commands and menu options. This reduces your call queue and gets callers what they need in a timely manner.
Interactive Voice Response Software Features
No two IVR software packages are exactly alike, but some of the basic features you should expect include:
- Automatic attendant. This is the first voice that a customer will hear when calling your company. By speaking commands or using their touch-tone keypad, the caller will be routed by the automatic attendant to the proper department or staff member.
- Voice mail. When no one is available to answer an extension, the software should route the call to voice mail and send an e-mail notification to the staff member or department inbox. Employees can then use a handheld device to listen to messages, no matter where they are.
- Data retrieval. Most callers have simple questions, so your IVR software should be able to retrieve basic information such as account balances.
Adding human resources to IVR applications
Interactive voice response software packages are fairly easy to use, especially for an employee who has learned and maintained other computer programs. IVR software typically contains a graphic interface, allowing a staff member to set up and change interactive voice menus after just a few hours of use.
Because the telephone system is a key part of any business, it's a good idea to have at least one or two dedicated human resources employees who will learn and maintain the software. These employees also will use the software to create IVR applications customized for your particular business (i.e., automated appointment reminder calls for medical offices and "faxback" capability for law practices).
Check the Hardware and Software Compatibility
When purchasing interactive voice response software, compatibility always is the first consideration. You will need at least one desktop computer that has a telephony board, which allows the software to communicate with the telephone system. IVR software also has specific requirements about available computer memory and processor speed, so make sure that the package you purchase will work with your existing computer hardware.
Benefits of an upgrade
If your basic phone or interactive voice response system isn't proving reliable or you're being let down then it may be time to consider an IVR upgrade.
When you need more than a call center: Your call center needs to be able to keep up with the fast-changing technology of today's world of smartphones and other mobile devices. An IVR system is a fully integrated center that can combine mobile, online, and landline communications. This type of system helps you manage and control both outbound and inbound calls, and includes services such as automated callbacks, email management, website orders, online real-time chat functions, voicemail, after-hours support, faxes, and more.
When your business is receiving more calls than you can handle: When you start feeling overwhelmed and too many calls and e-mails get backed up, an IVR upgrade can help ease the load and remove some of the stress.
When your customers aren't satisfied: Customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors in any small business's success, and an efficient IVR system will drastically improve customer service. When comparing options for upgrades, look for a system that offers service that is customized for each customer based on data the system collects.
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