The Importance of the IVR in Business

Not too long ago, there was an impression that the telephone would be relegated to second class status when contacting businesses for service and support. The supposition was that millennials would only use text-based services like chat, email, and SMS to communicate, leaving telephony solutions to flounder and stagnate. However, that could not be further from the truth.  While alternative forms of communication are definitely increasing in popularity and usefulness as more and more companies embrace Omnichannel, the telephone and IVR remain a critical component of any business strategy.

How the Smartphone is Impacting the Contact Center

One of the key reasons that the phone still matters is the humble mobile phone. With the proliferation of smartphones worldwide, however, these devices are no longer as simple as they used to be.  Current stats point to 3.8 billion active smartphones by 2021, which amounts to an 81% penetration rate in America.

While this number might be impressive by itself, consider the data from a survey conducted on 1500 people in the UK. This survey indicated that of the individuals polled, 94% needed to telephone a business for additional information and help. 

As you can see, the telephone is not going anywhere, anytime soon and is only growing in usage. IVR software was estimated to have a value of $3.4 billion in 2016, by 2023; this value is expected to be closer to $5.5 billion, with a large portion of that market share being in North America and APAC. 

Making Sure Your Customers Get Heard

When people think about IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, they often look at them with pity and dread. Older IVR systems warrant that feeling as they were difficult to use, difficult to navigate, and often caused pain to customers and employees. Fortunately, technology changes have removed or improved many of these limitations making the IVR a much more powerful tool.

What is IVR?

IVR systems are the brains behind your phone system. They can route calls to specific teams or agents based on telephone keypad inputs or responses to voice prompts. IVR’s basically have pre-recorded prompts at particular steps in the user journey. Based on the pre-programmed decision tree responses, they transition the call to the next action in the tree until eventually, a human operator is engaged.

Older IVR systems were simply incapable of innovations like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) that are at the heart of the improvements in newer methods. These older systems had problems with voice recognition and routing causing many customers to hang up in frustration. Companies need to embrace the changing landscape if they expect to provide a customer experience level that consumers expect. However, with these improvements comes additional complexity that many businesses do not know how to navigate. 

The Impact of Comprehensive Testing

IVR systems do not function in isolation. They depend on other technologies to work which is why they are considered as a system instead of a single technology. Each touchpoint needs to be evaluated from the point of view of the customer & these tests need to happen regularly and often. Comprehensive and automated IVR testing is the only reasonable solution for businesses today.  

Working with an established vendor like Nectar is the best solution for companies. Nectar has decades of experience helping companies make their communication systems work in a way customers appreciate. At Nectar we can help ensure your complete suite of solutions not only works well, but is properly integrated based on your specific requirements and business needs. At Nectar, Every Conversation Matters.

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Building a Solution That Works

This is where IVR testing comes into the equation. As IVR software continues to change and evolve, comprehensive IVR testing is needed to ensure that the solution is working the way it is meant to. 

IVR Discovery

With many companies still using older systems that have little to no documentation available, understanding all of the different paths a call can flow through is a very complicated undertaking. Luckily some solutions can automate this discovery process, helping map out decision trees clearly and concisely. With a defined decision tree in place, your team can ensure that call routing is optimized and well understood. Having an idea of your IVR landscape is only step one, however. To truly ensure that clients are getting the services they expect and deserve, companies need to focus on load and stress testing also.

IVR Load and Stress Testing

These two tests are different sides of the same coin. In essence, a load test is an evaluation of whether or not the system can handle calls during regular usage. This type of analysis helps determine if your internal systems and networks have the appropriate capacity or if they need to be upgraded. Stress testing is very similar, except instead of average load, a stress test attempts to overload the system to find the level at which it would fail. Once this level is determined, mitigation steps are put in place to try to address the gaps discovered.

IVR Monitoring and Alerting

The true measure of an IVR’s success is whether or not customers are getting to the right individual to address their concerns or issues. Unnecessary roadblocks and routing frustrate customers as do calls that are of insufficient quality. In the former case, customers have to repeat themselves multiple times which wastes time and effort. In the latter, customers have to call back which impacts them and the team in a significant manner. Customers should not be the harbinger of news when it comes to IVR customer experience - you need to have an IVR monitoring tool in place that continuously tracks and tests the system from a customers perspective. This tool should follow the customer journeys you have deemed critical and alert your internal teams of any pain points.

The Impact of Comprehensive Testing

IVR systems do not function in isolation. They depend on other technologies to work which is why they are considered as a system instead of a single technology. Each touchpoint needs to be evaluated from the point of view of the customer & these tests need to happen regularly and often. Comprehensive and automated IVR testing is the only reasonable solution for businesses today.  

Working with an established vendor like Nectar is the best solution for companies. Nectar has decades of experience helping companies make their communication systems work in a way customers appreciate. At Nectar we can help ensure your complete suite of solutions not only works well, but is properly integrated based on your specific requirements and business needs. At Nectar, Every Conversation Matters.

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