Here’s the twofer you were looking for: You want to save on customer service costs and you want to improve customer service.
Don’t be under the mistaken impression that it’s an either-or choice, and that your choices are to either skimp on customer service to save money, or go large on customer service and take the hit on the bottom line. Done correctly, IVR gives you both.
Take a recent blog post from Angel.com (News - Alert). They’ve been in the business a long time, and they know what they’re talking about: “IVRs tend to be demonized, but a lot of the time, they can actually make life easier for both companies and customers.”
There’s a lot of truth to that -- face it, would you rather have to speak to a live person to get your bank balance, repeat your account number a couple times and answer other questions -- “Is there anything I can help you with today? A car loan, perhaps?” Or, simply call a number, punch in your account number and get your balance, and boom, no fuss no muss?
And it’s not only banks that do their customers a favor by offering IVR options. Angel.com gives other pertinent examples:
Airlines. How about letting us register our mobile phone under your loyalty program, so we can check in with a short call “rather than logging on to the airline’s website, which can be difficult when on-the-go?” they ask. Good question.
Hotels. Let us give you our phone number, and automatically check us out when we call on our departure date. And as the Angel.com blogger, who’s obviously had this experience, says, “After the third time I call a hotel and ask for the same room, the IVR should be smart enough to answer on subsequent calls and say ‘press 1 to be connected to the guest you previously called or 2 to be connected to the operator’.”
Think bigger, though. Why not be able to pay a bill with any company by having them offer to bill you with the credit card they have on file, checking it via a PIN number or the security code on the back?
Pharmacies can ease the routine of refilling prescriptions using a not-too-complicated IVR. Meanwhile, cable companies, telephone companies and utilities in general should be using caller ID to identify which services you’re using and check to see if those services are working – “which they probably aren’t and that’s why I’m calling,” Angel.com says.
Parking fee automation, where you can go to a website and register a license plate and a credit card -- why not?
And speaking of banks, why can’t they use caller ID to identify who you are, and secure this knowledge by asking me a few questions only I would know? Why do you need your long account number memorized or written on your underwear waistband?
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Tammy Wolf