Every growing business experiences the following scenario at some point:
A new advertisement or marketing campaign generates attention and more potential customers start calling, causing the business owner and staff to spend significantly more time on the phone taking orders or answering questions.
An increase in calls can often overwhelm small- and even mid-sized businesses as they try to qualify new leads, or answer general inquiries while still trying to maintain service quality elsewhere. Some hire additional staff, while others rely on the phone company to provide additional lines to manage the workload – but these options carry significantly greater cost than automating inbound calls.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is the common automated menu system heard when customers call into businesses. IVR systems allow businesses to filter or route calls to specific people or work groups – such as sales or customer support – making inbound communications more efficient all around. Alternatively, some businesses use their IVR to share pre-recorded answers to common questions, such as office hours or location info.
IVR offers a business owner free and easy access to create, edit, and remove the menus or prompts (recordings the customer hears when calling the company) via web interface. This is especially useful for on-the-fly updates, like a limited discount offer or an emergency office closure.
Most hosted IVR systems include mailboxes available via their virtual phone system’s web interface. Real estate listing services, for example, would use these virtual mailboxes to create MLS directories that connect buyers to recordings about specific properties – freeing up sales agents to follow up with the most serious prospects first.
Advertising effectiveness can also be measured by designing the IVR system to collect data from calls from different metropolitan areas or those catering to local customer markets (i.e. pizza delivery services, community service groups, etc.). This enables the businesses to compare IVR reports to advertising campaigns determining which number combination/ad generated the greatest response.
Whether deployed to pre-screen callers, provide better service, or free staff from their phones, a virtual phone system with IVR features is certainly an affordable, flexible way to handle inbound calls more effectively.