This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR Development and custom IVR software and products.
Business phone systems and toll free answering systems (generally 800 numbers and their equivalent) are very popular for service and sales organizations, allowing customers and prospects to call your organization anywhere in the country.
The PACER and Wizard IVR systems add another dimension to our call center phone systems and solutions.
What Is IVR?. An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) processes inbound phone calls, plays recorded messages including information extracted from databases and the internet, and potentially routes calls to either inhouse service agents or transfers the caller to an outside extension.
The following is an article relating to the IVR market including tips and best practices as well as product and answering service information.
IVR Technology And The Virtual Call Center
Telemarketing & Call Center Solutions
by Luster, Michael C
Many companies have long seen the value in using IVR technology within their call centers. For years they have located IVRs behind ACDS to fulfill customer requests for mutual fund balances or flight arrival times. Customer requests are answered without straining a company's expensive agent resources, plus more customers are served. This allows agents to be reserved to answer complicated questions or provide answers that an IVR system cannot handle. However, a basic configuration that limits the IVR to physical connectivity at the ACD level cannot meet today's sophisticated customer service requirements.
The Traditional IVR Model
The traditional ACD-centric model, with the IVR connected behind the ACD via analog phone lines, relies on the ACD for the exchange of data for basic call-routing and reporting. An analog interface is only capable of a simple hook-flash and digits dialed to control the routing of calls transferred out of the IVR and does not support the dialed number identification system (DNIS) or calling line identification (CLID). Hence, data pertaining to the call can't be passed from the ACD to the IVR. In this traditional configuration, ACD and IVR ports are used up unnecessarily transferring calls back and forth. The process is inefficient and inadequate. To compensate, a company often sets up a complex IVR menu tree to gather information.
Reporting is limited because the ACD is only aware of the number and duration of calls, and has no knowledge about the transactions performed by the IVR. In addition, the IVR often reports conflicting data regarding call statistics, and can't report on network data or track how transferred calls are handled. If the caller requests a transfer to an agent, the IVR does not have access to any call center performance or agent skill data to assist in determining the appropriate call destination. Upon receiving the transferred call, the ACD applies its routing logic, but can provide only rudimentary data to the selected agent about the caller's needs. For companies deploying a virtual call center strategy, these issues are limiting and insurmountable.
IVR In The Virtual Call Center
IVR technology, included as an integral part of a virtual call center, enables companies to provide cost-effective yet personalized customer service. Depending upon the specific parameters of the IVR implementation, a company can use information gathered in the callrouting process to initiate special treatment based on caller attributes, learn more about customer expectations and requirements, and maximize the use of information at the desktop in support of business goals. Underpinning these elements is the notion of delivering value to the caller, while the company enjoys the ability to better track, deliver and make business decisions about the call and the call detail.
This makes segmenting callers of strategic importance. Call segmentation deals with the "who" and "why" questions of the call. Who is calling? Why is the individual calling? The "who" can either be a specific individual or be a category of customer. An individual caller can be identified based upon the number he or she dialed, where the person is calling from or information he or she inputs in response to a network or IVR prompt. For example, "Please enter your Social Security or account number." The "why" can be determined by prompting the caller for the desired transaction - "Press one for quotes," "Press two for account balances," or by searching a customer-profile database to determine the caller's preference, or if the caller has any outstanding transaction or service requests in progress.
Transaction fulfillment deals with "what" and "where": What answering resource is best suited to respond to this transaction request, and where is it located? Many times, the "what" can be an IVR application. For an IVR, the "where" can be one of several premises-based IVR systems, a network IVR system or an IVR application provided by a service agency. Also, hybrid transactions involving an IVR application and an agent are common. For example, a caller may be encouraged to provide basic account information to an IVR before being transferred to an agent for another transaction.
Benefits of enterprise IVR in the virtual call center include:
- Improved caller segmentation. In many cases, an IVR is the only way to uniquely identify a caller or his or her motive for calling.
- Promotion of self-service. A caller can receive a high level of service because the call is immediately answered and the issue resolved, with the transaction directed entirely by the caller.
- Automation of simple transactions. Calls can be handled, completed and terminated at the IVR rather than consume agent resources.
- Reduction of calls handled by agents. By handling calls via an IVR, the number of calls handled by agents decreases.
- Consolidated reporting. By including IVRs as a subsystem within an enterprisewide virtual capability, a company has unparalleled real-time and historical monitoring and reporting capabilities.
Routing Based On Caller Attributes
An efficient way to enhance the role of IVRs is through the use of what GeoTel calls translation routing. This approach is designed to prompt the caller - at the network - for information. That in turn triggers a translation route so the call and the data about the call are sent to the correct resource immediately - regardless of the answering resource's location.
Here's an example. The caller is prompted by the network-level IVR for an account number, frequent flyer number or other customized identifier. The intelligent call-routing software includes the data from the prompt in a pre-route request along with information from a customer database lookup if applicable, and instructs the network on where to send the call.
At the same time, a message is sent to the terminating location indicating caller identity and/or other significant information stored on the caller. When the call arrives at the terminating ACD, a server process has already obtained the data about the customer and is ready to deliver the information to the agent in the form of a screen pop. Call and data delivery are synchronized once the ACD selects the appropriate agent.
Driving this process is intelligent call processing software that monitors the virtual call center. It "sees" the status of every connected peripheral device and every connected network so caller-prompted data can be used to send the call to the best destination. If computer-telephony integration (CTI) is deployed, a screen is popped with the corresponding data when an agent receives the call. Regardless of the call's starting point and final destination, call detail and data are routed along with the call. Working dynamically from the network to the desktop dramatically improves record retrieval time, leverages existing technology investments, improves customer service and directly maps call handling to business objectives.
Benefits of incorporating enterprise IVR technology into a CTI strategy are:
- Accurate, enterprisewide call center and customer information is uniformly delivered to the desktop through multisite screen pops, screen transfers, screen conferencing and screen monitoring;
- IVR-to-agent transfer of call-detail information is available across all sites;
- Real-time and historical data are normalized across all sites and all types of IVRs.
IVRs have drastically improved the operations of most call centers because they are no longer just a generic way to perform basic functions like initiating and answering calls or playing back prerecorded announcements. By bringing IVRs into the virtual call center, it is possible to handle many more transactions economically, yet in a highly standardized and familiar way. Delivering network to desktop integration that includes IVRs in the virtual call center ensures the proper balance between value to the customer and value to the company.
Contact DSC today. to learn more about our IVR services and IVR application development software.