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Visual IVRs The Future of Call Center Communications

Visual IVRs The Future of Call Center Communications

IVR (interactive voice response) has been with us for a long time. Everyone has had the experience of calling IVRinto a call center to get a computerized or recorded voice offering a list of options and the numbers to press to choose those options. Unfortunately, virtually everyone dislikes this process, finding it frustrating at best and impossibly confusing at worst.

The technology has its benefits, however, which is why so many companies use it. It reduces wait time, and it can make sure any given phone call goes to the right department to hear it. Properly implemented, it can even have customers’ information and personal details ready for the call center representative by the time the customer is on the line. Just as with any other aspect of a company, however, a bad experience with IVR will spread very quickly, especially in today's world of social media communication.

More than two-thirds of customers prefer talking to a live person when contacting a call center, while IVR clocked in at only a 16% preference behind customer support and live chat. IVR is generally the last means of contact when customers are given other options.

Despite these statistics, IVR is not likely going away. It still remains one of the best means of making a call center efficient. The current rise in the use of smartphones may have the perfect answer.

A New Image

Imagine instead of listening to a long list of "Press 1 for..., press 2 for...." and so on, the options were listed in an easy-to-read and easy-to-select format on the screen of your phone. This is visual IVR, which allows just that. Instead of waiting for a voice on the phone to read the entire list, the caller can see all available choices without having to remember which number to pick. Plus, there are no longer those annoying sessions where the caller has to enter multiple numbers before waiting upwards of 20 minutes before the call is answered. The right call center software can handle this.

The simple fact that one does not have to listen to a long list of options, sometimes more than once, already dramatically reduces the length of the call for the caller, undoubtedly enhancing customer satisfaction in that area. A visual menu can be navigated much more quickly (and accurately) than an audio list.

Efficient customer service is not the only benefit of IVR. It saves money by making it much easier for a customer to rely on self-service. A few taps of a screen or clicks of a mouse may solve the problem, allowing call center representatives to focus on the truly difficult matters. Also, the cost to upgrade is minimal, since visual IVR uses the same general scripts as standard IVR.

Visual IVR has the added benefit of allowing companies to add apps to their IVR to enhance customer experience, allowing for more precise call routing, self-diagnosis, and even self-repair, in some cases.

The Coming Change

Audio IVR isn't going away; not everyone has a smartphone, nor can every company be contacted through visual interface such as a tablet or computer. But it remains a very good option for those who choose to use the technology, and it’s clear that the visual interface made popular by theexplosion of smartphones and tablets is here to stay. There's no reason to scrap the old system when you can have both.

According to an article on Business Wire, a leading customer service company is turning to visual IVR to help victims of the Nepal earthquake that caused a vast humanitarian crisis. Their assistance provided the International Red Cross and Red Crescent with visual IVR to make it easier for donors to give to the cause of victim relief. The new system was available just two days after the quake.

Arranging for visual IVR can be just about that easy for any company which wants to make a shift and enhance their customer service. It will take a little foresight -- you'll need to know what questions you want to ask and consider any changes in the script between visual and audio IVR -- but once you've hammered out the details, you'll wonder why you weren't using this technology already.

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Emily Hunter has been writing about business topics for many years, and currently writes on behalf of the call center recording specialists at Kova Corp. In her spare time, she cheers for Carolina Crown, formulates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen

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