IVR Contact Center Guide

IVR Contact Center Guide
Article by Zarah Ariola
Last Updated: June 04, 2023

IVR contact center automates communication between your company and clients. It provides customer support teams with more control over a high volume of calls and eliminates long waiting times for clients — it is cost-saving and time-efficient.

This article explains IVR contact centers' function, benefits, and best implementation practices.

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What is an IVR Contact Center?

An IVR or interactive voice response is an automated telephone software system commonly used in contact centers. It functions as your virtual receptionist. Through IVR systems, callers interact with self-serve menu options via dial entries or speech recognition functionality.

An IVR contact center uses automated phone prompts to collect information from callers and quickly resolve their concerns. Customers who need more help than the automated system can provide are transferred to a live agent who can address their problem more effectively.

How Do Call Center IVR Systems Work?

As a form of an answering service, call center IVR systems are used with automatic call distribution (ACD) technology. They deliver client support by presenting callers with a menu and asking them to respond by dialing a specific number on their phone keypad. The ACD can also reroute the customer to the most qualified call center representative who can handle the caller’s needs.

IVR systems process caller responses in two ways:

  • Through dialing, callers use their phone keypads to enter responses. The system interprets these responses using the dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signals. It then provides pre-recorded answers to the caller.
  • Through speech recognition, advanced IVR systems have software that can understand spoken responses using natural language processing (NLP) technology.
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Workflows Used for IVR Customer Service

Here are the automated workflows or applications utilized in an intuitive and versatile IVR contact center:

Automatic Routing

With automatic routing in an IVR system, callers can choose options from the IVR menu, which provide details to the call center IVR systems. The IVR tool gives answers based on the information the customer provided earlier. If the caller has more questions or needs additional help, the system connects them with a support agent.

Personalized Call Center IVR System Messages

Call center IVR systems let you record greeting messages and provide a personalized customer experience. Another personalization example is setting up your IVR customer service to retrieve the caller’s name based on the phone number used, if available on your IVR database.

Automated IVR Contact Center Processes

Nowadays, about 80% of customers are willing to interact with an IVR if that means they can save time. Automated processes enable faster response to customer queries and, in turn, increase consumer satisfaction. Also, these allow your client support agents to focus on manually handling more complicated cases.

Here are some sample processes that you can automate:

  • Questions about business information such as office location and business hours
  • Available pricing model and variations of your products and services
  • Order tracking for logistics and shipment
  • Checking of account balance or credit limit for banking services
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Nine Call Center IVR Best Practices

  1. Use Human Voice
  2. Include Live Agent Support
  3. Make a Short and Simple Main Menu
  4. Notify Customers About Wait Time
  5. Use Pleasant Hold Music
  6. Provide Multi-Lingual Support
  7. Share IVR Customer Information With Live Agent
  8. Use IVR With Voice Recognition and Barge-in Technologies
  9. Regularly Update Your IVR Menu

Here are nine best practices for implementing and utilizing IVR in a call center:

1. Use Human Voice

Using human-sounding voices creates a more natural and engaging customer experience while adding professionalism and credibility to your business. Robotic voices are outdated, as they sound unnatural and mechanical and lack empathy.

To deliver a natural voice that resonates well with callers, follow these tips:

  • Hire professional voice actors to record the messages in your IVR system.
  • Maintain a conversational tone to create a human-like interaction.
  • Convey empathy and understanding in your prompts to make callers feel more connected and appreciated during the interactions.
  • Avoid robotic or overly formal language and strive for a warm and friendly tone.
  • Ensure the prompts are spoken comfortably, allowing callers to understand information.
  • Avoid talking too fast or slow and leave appropriate pauses for callers to respond or make selections.

2. Include Live Agent Support

While self-service options in IVR systems are valuable, giving customers a choice to speak with a live agent is crucial. After all, 80% of people still prefer a human to a bot when dealing with their concerns. Customers cannot effectively resolve all their issues through self-service portals alone. By offering live agent support, you’ll ensure they always have assistance.

Include the option to connect directly to a live agent in the main menu. This approach minimizes frustration and allows customers to quickly access the personalized assistance they may need for resolving complex issues.

3. Make a Short and Simple Main Menu

To provide the best customer experience, keep your IVR menu concise and simple. Simplifying the menu ensures customers can navigate it quickly and efficiently. It should be short (under 30 seconds) and offer clear choices that help direct callers to the right agent or resource promptly. Too many options can lead to frustration and sudden hang-ups.

4. Notify Customers About Wait Time

Provide callers with information about their wait time or position in the queue to manage their expectations and increase patience. For longer wait times, provide periodic updates or offer a call-back option. Use the time while callers are in the line to promote additional communication channels or highlight current promotions.

5. Use Pleasant Hold Music

Choose pleasant and soothing hold music to make the waiting time more enjoyable (or at least less frustrating) and provide a satisfying customer experience. Consider instrumental music without lyrics, which is the most suitable for hold time. If you plan to loop the music, ensure smooth transitions. Avoid loud or energetic music, as well as the one with controversial or offensive elements, that may agitate or annoy callers during their wait.

6. Provide Multi-Lingual Support

Since your customers may speak different languages, offer IVR menu options in multiple languages to ensure an inclusive customer experience. For the US contact centers, provide support in English and Spanish. If you have a global customer base, expand your language options accordingly and ensure that the chosen language is used throughout the entire call.

7. Share IVR Customer Information With Live Agent

Customers don’t like when they have to repeat the same information to multiple agents. To prevent their frustration, ensure that information shared with the IVR is passed to a live agent during call transfers. That way, agents won’t miss any critical details. This practice saves time and enhances the customer experience.

8. Use IVR With Voice Recognition and Barge-in Technologies

Voice recognition technology understands and processes what customers say. It allows for natural pauses, allowing customers to respond to prompts using their voices. It creates a smooth and seamless experience for callers. If your IVR system doesn’t have a voice recognition feature, include barge-in functionality.

Barge-in allows customers to interrupt or speak over prompts without waiting for them to finish. It enables customers to quickly provide their responses or input, making interaction with the IVR system smoother and more efficient,

9. Regularly Update Your IVR Menu

Remove outdated messages that may no longer be relevant or useful to callers and replace them with current information and promotions. Keeping your IVR menu and messages current builds trust with callers and gives your company a positive reputation.

Five Benefits of a Call Center IVR

  1. Handling Peak Periods and Large Volumes of Calls
  2. Segmenting Clients Based on a Set of Criteria
  3. Leveraging Gathered Customer Information
  4. Boosting Your Brand Name and Business Reputation
  5. Enabling Omnichannel Customer Service

The IVR contact center offers many other advantages for optimizing client care procedures.

1. Handling Peak Periods and Large Volumes of Calls

IVR customer service software allows smoother, easier handling of high call volumes without overwhelming call center agents. Through your IVR, you can:

  • Provide self-service options
  • Automate call rerouting
  • Offer a scheduled callback to clients who cannot wait
  • Make customer support available 24/7

2. Segmenting Clients Based on a Set of Criteria

Customer segmentation in an IVR contact center can be valuable, especially when anticipating call volume based on caller location.

For example, if your services are down in a specific area, you can expect more calls from that region. In such cases, you can filter or segment calls from the affected area and create a customized message to address the issue. The prerecorded message can explain what happened, why the system is down, the progress on resolving the problem, and the estimated time for restoration. You can share this message with other affected subscribers as well.

Another way to segment calls is by prioritizing certain customers. You can prioritize VIP clients and assign agents specifically to assist them.

3. Leveraging Gathered Customer Information

IVR systems collect significant amounts of consumer data. Use their details to tailor and reshape your IVR customer service offerings for a more personalized customer journey.

You can use your IVR contact center tools to gather customer feedback about their recent customer service experience. After the conversation ends, conduct a quick survey, but ensure it’s quick and easy to follow for customers. For example, ask them to rate your customer support services using their phone keypad. Don’t forget to ask for their consent to participate in the survey beforehand.

4. Boosting Your Brand Name and Business Reputation

A call center IVR system that offers self-service options and live agent assistance provides well-organized and professional customer care services. When your audience and target markets are satisfied with your products, services, and support, it boosts your brand name.

The goal of an IVR contact center is to make clients feel secure, knowing they can resolve their concerns, even without constant communication with a live representative. Clients get different choices to address their queries and issues.

24/7 IVR customer service improves your business reputation. It's especially beneficial when dealing with customers in different time zones. Continuous availability helps build rapport and loyalty, demonstrating your commitment to serving customers.

5. Enabling Omnichannel Customer Service

Call center IVR systems can provide omnichannel customer support, allowing you to use multiple platforms like chat, email, and phone calls to enhance your operations. Whether a customer reaches out via phone, email, or chat, the customer service representatives can retrieve and use the relevant information from previous interactions.

This comprehensive view of customer data helps agents provide personalized and informed assistance, leading to a more seamless and satisfying customer experience.

Conclusion: IVR Contact Center for Improved Client Care

An IVR contact center is worth the investment. Maximizing your use of IVR customer service software does not overwork your support team of agents. On the contrary, you organize and optimize your operations and, at the same time, elevate consumer satisfaction. Neither do you compromise the high standard of quality for your customer service.

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IVR Contact Center FAQs

1. What does IVR mean in a call center?

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is a technology used in contact centers that allows callers to interact with an automated system through voice or keypad input to access information or perform certain tasks without speaking to a live agent. If a caller needs more help than the IVR can provide, it is transferred to a live agent who can resolve its issues.

2. How much does IVR cost?

The cost of an IVR system varies depending on several factors:

  • Your business requirements
  • The complexity of the IVR system
  • The number of phone lines or channels required
  • The desired features and functionality
  • The provider you choose

Some IVR systems cost $1000, while others can cost up to $10.000.

3. What is an example of IVR?

An IVR example is when you call the company’s call center and get a voice response: “Hello, welcome to the XYZ call center. For sales inquiries, press 1. For technical support, press 2. For billing and payment information, press 3. For all other inquiries, press 4.To speak to an agent, press 0.”

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