Saturday, March 8, 2008

Implementing IVR Projects the No Risk Way

Executive summary

  • Do you want callers to be much more satisfied when calling your call center?
  • Do you want to do that with lower costs than you incur at present?
  • Are you hesitant to be one of the early adopters of the latest technology?

What is IVR?

IVR is used as an acronym for Interactive Voice Response where the caller keys in his responses on a touchtone telephone. Requiring customers to key in their responses is something that customers in general find less than satisfactory. However talking to a Crimsonet Natural Speech IVR (Interactive Voice Response) agent can be as pleasing as talking to a real person. An IVR system by Crimsonet can transform a call center by substituting IVR agents for some of the human call agents or for those outmoded touchtone Interactive Voice Response units.

For this article we will discuss an example of a call-center with a number of incoming lines. Suppose any incoming call might require any of a variety of functions to be handled. The first function might be as simple as greeting the caller and requiring some identifying information. For example this might include a credit card number. A more complex function might be giving a credit card balance on a credit card account. This type of call center is illustrated in the image below.

Call-center with Human Agents

The long-term goal could be to maximize the use of IVR agents in the call center. IVR agents would be used for any function where they can perform better than a human receptionist. On the other hand, functions where the caller’s needs are difficult to detect or address would be left with a human agent This particularly applies to any function where the caller’s needs are complex, for example a request for technical service. So any call-center will typically have at least a few functions handled by human agents to cope with such callers, or as a backup to the IVR agents. The long-term arrangement of IVR agents and human agents in this example is illustrated in the image below.

ICall-center with max IVR Agents

Installing an IVR system by Crimsonet does not require a commitment to the full scope of the long-term solution. An IVR system can be implemented for a small section of the call center onlyand yet be fully effective. This concept of implementation by sections will be explored in this article.

What an IVR solution offers

IVR gives better caller service and lower costs

Installing an IVR solution within a call-center is easily accomplished and is relatively rapid. Such a project will give four main advantages. They are as follows:

  • Complete divisibility
    By complete divisibility, we mean that any section, large or small, of the call-center activities can be easily hived off and handled by IVR agents. It is as easy as setting up a new group of human agents within the call-center. An important task is to ensure that the way in which calls are transferred to the section or are handed on from the section are well defined.
  • Improved customer service
    IVR by Crimsonet offers improved customer service. The IVR agent is always alert, fully trained and very perceptive in interpreting customer requests. An IVR agent can provide the very best information and accurately transfer the call to another function if additional information is required.
  • Performance measurement
    The accurate recording of both the callers’ requests and the IVR agents’ responses provide an excellent basis for measuring performance. The Crimsonet technology involves a continual monitoring of performance to facilitate a process of ongoing improvement.
  • Reduced cost
    The running costs of operating an IVR system is much below that of employing human agents. The typical payback for an IVR project by Crimsonet is measured in months.

Defining an initial IVR section

An IVR section could involve Natural Speech IVR agents handling a particular function for a fraction of the incoming calls. In this example, suppose the caller must use a touchtone Interactive Voice Respon

se unit to identify that they wish to access the particular function. If a Natural Speech IVR agent is available, then a proportioin of such calls (for example 50%) are transferred to IVR agents. The balance of the calls for this function is handled by human agents. For example in one real life banking installation, the function involved in handling stock quotes inquiries was handled by an IVR section with great success.

By surveying customer reactions for those handled by IVR agents and those by human agents, a comparison of customer satisfaction can be developed. Clearly the costs of both methods are easily identified. This sectional approach is illustrated by the image below. In the case of the bank, the initial success has resulted in further functions that were transferred to new IVR sections.

Call-center with IVR Section

Closing an IVR section - the costs

An IVR section test does not imply increased costs

Operating a Natural Speech IVR section as compared with managing the equivalent group of human agents or touchtone IVR delivers many advantages. It is therefore a very unlike event that an IVR section would be closed. The costs involved in running a Natural Speech IVR section for some time will usually be lower than the costs of managing an equivalent group of human agents or touchtone Interactive Voice Response units. This means that there is a net cost advantage when operating Natural Speech IVR. This means that there is little risk in setting up an IVR section in order to gain experience of this way of operating.


Natural Voice IVR Sections demonstrate the benefits while minimizing the risk

In practice it will be found that deciding to test out an IVR section is almost a no-brainer decision. Even in the worst situation where the IVR section is eventually closed, it is likely that minimal cash costs will have been involved. This risk can be minimized by choosing a smaller section. Much more likely however is that the benefits of the IVR approach will have been shown to be very significant. The operating experience with the IVR section will simplify the further installation of additional IVR sections.


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Dialer Consultant said...

IVR Companies in India are providing Predictive Dialer and IVR services at very economical costs.But As a IVR professional i think that they should focus more on R&D activity .

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Sunny Frozen said...

IVR is becoming increasingly important in delivering Voice Value Added Services across certain business sectors. Our extensive telecommunications experience means we can provide the seamless integration of total IVR solutions.