Interactive voice response system is the front-end of the computerized business phone system, which logs recorded responses to callers. The system allows using computerized self-service application to inform the customers, decreasing time required for live agent’s help, and lowering company’s cost related to customer service.
IVR system has several main functions:
captures caller’s ID when he/she inputs numbers on the phone-keypad;
provides pre-recorded voice responses for appropriate situations;
allows callers to get access to information without human intervention;
records caller’s voice responses;
handles high loads of callers at once.
Later on, data comes from a host database, which is CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) system in action.
IVR phone system allows the customer to contact the company 24/7/365 to check his/her bank account, order status information, inquire about specific services, etc. The IVR system provides with the recorded information in the database and reads it to the caller. Moreover, the company can make IVR phone system dynamic. It could provide real time information from the certain company’s database instead of just reading pre-recorded messages (e.g. Please select 1, if you are new client,” “Please leave a message to Sales Support department,” “There are no consultants available at the moment, please wait,” etc.) to the customer.
IVR phone system could be linked to the Web and provide various types of data to the customer
It could be visual information, such as online catalogs, description of the products, etc., which is provided into customer/ agent’s screen. Here, the customers could visualize information requested. They can review information about the product prior to the purchase. Therefore, the customers become well prepared when talking to live support. Plus, the call duration decreases, the purchases become more profitable to the company, and conversation with the live agent becomes more productive. As from the company’s standpoint, interactive voice response allows providing full-attention and best service to the client without the need to live chat with an agent.
CTI systems are considered to be data delivery instruments. They cannot create best salesperson out of the person with no sales skills. However, they are capable of providing the sales person with the specific and comprehensive data when searching for the information requested by the client.
Generally, the agent is able to see caller’s information when the customer calls him/her. The identification of the caller could be provided in different ways. It could be data retrieved from the toll free line or via the system providing digits inputted by the caller. Consequently, time required for searching contact details decreases, since the agent has caller’s data in front of him/her. Moreover, the agent is able to review historical data of the interaction with the client. The system will inform the agent if there were certain problems, specific issues, etc. It will also notify if the caller is a top-priority client.
Of course, it would be better if CTI systems could identify the most valuable client for the company and redirect the call to the experienced agent capable to communicate with the priority clients.
CTI systems ensure quality control
For example, recorded phone calls are constantly monitored by the agent or their supervisor in the call centers, banks, and other institutions. Therefore, it is possible to listen to them later on and evaluate person’s performance.
Such method makes agent more productive, since he/she receives client’s data on the computer screen while talking to the client. Here, the agent is able to review detailed record of every interaction with the client. Moreover, CTI systems are a good training tool and source for the comprehensive communication with the client.
As a result of CTI integration, the company could decrease its operating costs by minimizing the number of support staff. Plus, the company becomes more productive when keeping the same number of staff and taking greater number of calls, transactions, customers, etc.
IVR system allows keeping personal touch to the company. Here, a small company could handle inquiries in a way a large corporation does. In fact, the customers do not really care about company’s size. They are more concerned about the resolution of their requests. In case they experience good service from Microsoft or Bank United, they would expect the same type of service from the company they deal with disregarding company’s size. CTI application provides possibility to handle different types of claims, such as answering calls after working hours, providing with basic information when no agents are available, taking orders 24/7, and so on. Disregarding the case, the linkage of computer networks with the telecommunication systems allows small company choosing diverse methods in managing customer relationships. Generally, implementation of CTI systems creates an image of a professional company in the eyes of the customers disregarding the company’s size.
The usage of computer telephony allows the call center to identify its customers and clarify the reasons they are calling prior to the conversation. CTI application could indicate detailed information on the clients, such as their preferences, likes, dislikes, and their worth to the company. Having no computer telephony makes every interaction with the customer as a blind date – accompanied with frustration and full of expectation.
Furthermore, CTI systems allow the company to respond to changing market environment. However, the integration of the system should be done properly. It should have continuous support from the senior management and correspond to the company’s strategy for the information technology.
When implementing CTI application, the company should clearly decide what kind of interaction they want with customers and consider every single case of interaction, such as routine phone calls, e-mails, requests via fax, and even web applications. Unfortunately, many companies had negative experience with computer telephony integration. These companies were not considering company’s needs but just invested in the technology they imagined.
Therefore, properly implemented CTI system is a combination of application and essential technologies, which add value to current company’s operations and extend them to intelligent call routing, fax forwarding to e-mail, voice mail, pre-recorded messaging, sales representatives automation, customer service software, call center applications, and many more depending on the specific requirements of the company. Here, clarifying which components are required for different cases is the core priority.
There are many solutions to integration of successful and productive CTI systems. One of them is choosing the right supplier of the services from the multiple vendors. Component vendors are able to provide IT solutions and redirect to application partners that develop applications compatible with their software. Telcos and large service providers offer integrated IT solutions that are certified among all implemented software. It guarantees that all of the CTI components function properly. The company could also choose Systems Integrators. These specialists focus on identifying custom needs of the company and matching various software/applications in accordance to the needs.
Disregarding the choice, the success of CTI integration depends on the support of senior management, clear directions on the project’s goals, and detailed analysis of the rapport between the customers and the company.
Disregarding the choice, the success of CTI implementation depends on the support of senior management, clear directions on the project’s goals, and detailed analysis of the rapport between the customers and the company.