Friday, March 20, 2009

Develop a Better Call Center IVR System with Multi-Channel Synchronization

Call center IVR systems are often treated as isolated customer service channels. But with good synchronization with other channels, IVR systems can be strengthened and offer even better call center IVR service. This is something I mentioned briefly in a recent blog about ITExpo, with the point that multi-channel communication is one of the leading trends in the industry. Nowadays, it’s important not just to have these various channels available, but also to make sure call center IVR systems are synchronized with other channels, consolidating the accumulated client experience. Multi-channel synchronization between call center IVR systems and other channels achieves better efficiency, better service, and increased trust.

What do I mean when I say multi-channel synchronization between call center IVR systems and other client channels? Implementation will depend on the call center, but there are many examples:
  • Make information from other channels available to the call center IVR system: Nothing is more irritating to a customer than having to repeat information. So, if they’ve just filled out a web-based order form and called your call center IVR to confirm the shipping date, all of the information they filled out should be available to the IVR system or agent. No need to ask for address or contact number again — the IVR system should already have this information stored.
  • Use other channels to confirm self-service IVR system orders: This is a simple way to build customer trust. When any kind of self-service order is placed with a call center IVR system or agent, send a confirmation email with all of the relevant information for easy reference.
  • Use SMS message confirmation for on-the-go IVR system callers: If your call center IVR system caters to mobile users, take advantage of it! A great opportunity to use targeted SMS messaging, for instance, is self-service directory assistance. After providing a business address and phone number, a text message is usually sent to recap the information for easy reference.
  • Promote different channels: Make sure customers are aware of the options above and beyond your call center IVR system. Encourage people to visit your live chat support or website while on hold; offer to subscribe them to SMS updates. The more tools at their disposal, the greater customer satisfaction—but first they need to know about them.
Multi-channel IVR system synchronization can impress your clients and offer better service. Update your call center IVR system with stronger synchronization between channels and you’ll soon see results.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Boost Sales with Customized IVR Voice Recognition Software

Customized voice recognition software and IVR systems in call centers are usually associated with improved customer service. It’s true that when properly implemented, IVR systems and customized voice recognition software can significantly increase caller satisfaction. That’s why in past blogs I’ve focused a lot on how important it is to update your IVR system for better customer service.

But the question is, can IVR and customized voice recognition software also boost sales? After all, it’s important to keep business goals in mind when implementing an IVR system. I recently read an article on TMCnet which brought up the common divide between sales and customer service. The article points out that “organizations may be more successful if they ha[ve] a more direct link between service and the sales process”.

And in fact, with proper tailoring, call centers can do a lot to boost sales with IVR and customized voice recognition software. Here are a few suggestions for customizing your IVR and call center system to increase sales:

  • When customers are on hold waiting for an agent, why not have the IVR system tell them about your latest product or promotion? Instead of listening to irrelevant hold music, callers will get valuable information that can lead to sales. Customized voice recognition software can even tailor the respective product according to the caller’s particular characteristics or history of calls. For example, if they’re calling from a particular location, why not have the IVR system tell them about a new branch opening nearby?
  • IVR systems can consolidate information much more quickly and efficiently than a live agent. Use customized voice recognition software to collect information to up-sell and cross-sell. Based on location, gender, and caller history, the IVR system can establish the best sales recommendations before passing callers on to agents. The result? More sales, and a greater return on investment.
  • While it’s inadvisable to bombard clients with unsolicited sales calls, clients will be much more receptive to automated IVR reminders, whether for shipping dates, appointments, or account renewals. Soft sales prompts can be added to the end of IVR calls to increase sales. For example: “This is an automated message for Mr. Joe from ____. Your couches will be shipped at ____. For further inquiries or to learn more about our matching product of the month, please stay on the line.”
Customized voice recognition software and IVR systems are a valuable and often overlooked avenue for boosting sales. As the TMC article points out, “By more closely aligning the sales process with customer service and support, [a] company is more likely to enjoy a growing revenue base while the customer receives a consistent and enjoyable experience.” Particularly in the face of the current economic situation, it is crucial to identify issues that can increase the level of client loyalty or opportunities to cross-/up-sell the existing client. This may definitely change the result of ROI analysis on your planned IVR system.