Monday, July 6, 2009

Marketing in a Down Economy: Your Call Center IVR System Can Help

I always advise companies to establish the ROI before starting call center IVR system development. Often the ROI on an IVR system goes beyond just the financial. One potential benefit of a call center IVR system is the opportunity to market your company’s image. Marketing can prove especially expensive during an economic slowdown, and considering your marketing plan while planning call center IVR system development is a great way to cement your company image.

So use your call center IVR system to greatest advantage—create a voice user interface which reflects your company. The IVR system persona, the hold function, the tone and the content of the call—all offer a great opportunity to project a specific impression of your company.

Take, for example, the call center IVR system of the company Apple. They target a hip, cutting-edge market. Waiting on hold with Apple, you are met with folk rock, the music of choice of much of the company’s demographic. Why is this valuable? It further contributes to the company’s image as creators of youthful, modern, and up-to-the-minute technology. (Of course, ideally you won’t have a hold time at all, and a well-developed IVR system will help minimize the time spent waiting)

Aside from targeting your hold music or narration, what else can you do to market your company with your call center IVR system? Consider:

1) Inserting your company slogan in the IVR system script. It should be innocuous, of course—you don’t want to be invasive or irritating—but simply dropping a slogan at the beginning and end of the call center IVR call can emphasize your company’s strengths and keep them in the caller’s awareness. One strategy is to integrate the slogan in the company name—for example: “Welcome to Bank of America, the Bank of Opportunity”, or “Thank you for calling Allstate Insurance, where you know You’re in Good Hands”.

2) Create a strong call center IVR persona. I touched on this briefly at the end of a previous IVR system blog on the ITExpo East 2009 conference. Ask yourself, who does your company serve? Is your persona relatable for that audience? An insurance company which emphasizes security, for example, should have a persona which exudes calmness and confidence. A financial services company targeting students and first-time homeowners might gear towards a more youthful voice and demeanour.

3) Use your call center IVR system to target sales. See my previous IVR development blog for more on this topic. If a caller is waiting on hold for a particular service or product, you can enhance your caller’s knowledge about relevant issues or just inform them about complementary products/services. You’ll see sales rise almost instantaneously.

4) Think outside the box with your call center IVR development. Sometimes just being different is enough to get your company noticed. A recent TMC article discusses the stigma that IVR systems are “boring”. Add a little zest to your IVR system script. When applicable, have your IVR system wish callers a happy birthday. Insert a holiday greeting. Or, if it fits with your company’s image, you can even consider injecting a little humour in your IVR script development.

The bottom line? Make sure your IVR system is consistent with your company’s marketing image. Keep your IVR system relevant, keep it useful, and make sure it is beneficial for callers. You’ll soon see the impact on sales and ROI.