Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Dec 2014

CONTACT CENTRES: Creating a Favourable Self-Service Persona


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In today’s business environment, companies do not have the luxury to employ people for the sole reason of answering phones and relaying information about flight schedules, an order status, appointments, bank balances, and other time critical events and activities.

“Ironically though, handling these calls, which often come in large volumes, and also correctly routing them, remains an critical customer satisfaction element of any business,” says Ebrahim Dinat, COO of Ocular Technologies, a South African contact centre solutions provider.

According to the Global IVR System Market 2014-2018 research, published by TechNavio, a global tech-focused research firm, interactive voice recognition (IVR) systems provide an advanced communication system for enabling better customer interaction and services, and help companies deal with increasing call volumes. The report also highlights the growing trend of IP-based IVRs that enhance deployment features and capabilities, thus making network management easier.

“IVR technology has grown in sophistication over the years and transformed from a technology that offers pre-recorded voice prompts, menus and touch-tone telephone keypad entries to one that enables input and responses to be gathered via spoken words with voice recognition,” says Dinat.

Tobias Goebel, mobile strategy director at Aspect, an Ocular Technologies’ software partner company, recently took part in an in depth Frost and Sullivan interview that focused on the trends in IVR technology and automated customer care. Below are four trends from Goebel’s blog that were spotlighted in the interview:

1. Customers are seeking their own answers to their questions first

“Chances are, by the time a customer calls your company to ask a question, they have already exhausted all of the avenues of information readily available to them. They are using search engines like Google, posting their questions on support forums and asking their peers on social networks. In this sense, the agent at the contact centre has been elevated in the customer’s mind to the ‘authority’ on the subject. This is the person to call when all else fails or when they’ve received conflicting information and need clarification. So if you know that customers are frequently calling in with a similar question that can be answered through an IVR or by directing your customer to an agent who is an expert on that subject, you can elevate customer satisfaction by being proactive,” says Goebel.

2. Companies that don’t offer self-service channels may be driving business to competitors

Goebel explains that because so many more customers prefer to engage on their own terms and find answers via the method they choose rather than be forced to call customer service, failing to offer self-service options can easily result in frustrated customers who would rather contact a competitor via web chat or Twitter than call your 800 number. “By the same token, if and when customers do pick up the phone, the ideal interactive voice response system should be one that guides them to a resolution as quickly and smoothly as possible rather than presenting additional obstacles or challenges,” he highlights.

3. Omni-channel customer care can help preserve the context of IVR interactions

Nothing seems to frustrate a customer more than having to repeat information. Today’s customers fully expect businesses to have their data available and on file, ready to assist with problems that arise. They become frustrated with having to repeat account numbers or other identifying information to IVR systems and then to live agents when they expect this data to carry over from one point in the conversation to the next. “This is where SMS and mobile applications have the potential to even more seamlessly connect interactions, beginning with proactive outreach and engaging the consumer, requesting information about the issue which would then connect the customer to an IVR and route him or her to the appropriate agent if necessary, never losing any of the information provided by the consumer,” adds Goebel.

4. Personalised prompts can make the IVR experience more dynamic

“The more information you have about your customer, the greater the opportunity to deliver personalisation in the prompts and menu options you present when a customer calls in to the IVR,” says Goebel. He illustrates this by saying that if a customer previously called a bank to check his or her account balance, you might be able to offer this as a first option on the next call. It’s all about using the customer data that you have in an intelligent way that enhances and reinforces your existing relationship.

“As with all matters technology, the ‘human touch’ cannot be refuted. To lighten the call burden on your employees and still keep customers satisfied, a reputable IVR solution that is built on how people naturally do things should be considered. If the user experience is not taking into consideration, your IVR solution could become more of a hindrance than help. Customers need to be wooed by the best of both: technology interface and the human face,” concludes Dinat.

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