Clever, huh? That’s what IVR stands for, for me — Invaluable Viable Resource. No, really, it actually means “Interactive Voice Response.” What the heck do I know, right?
Hopefully, a lot — as this particular article’s going to tell you some of the logistic philosophy surrounding the concept of Interactive Voice Response within a company
What Is IVR?
Don’t you love those telemarketers, or secretaries, who constantly answer the phone? “[insert business name], how may I help you? [insert business name], how may I help you?” Seems pretty tiring, actually.
That’s what IVR sets out to do. It cuts out the telemarketer or secretary and replaces them with a computer — an automated voice technology system designed to answer your questions, employing voice recognition. You probably at some point in your most recent months as a human being have experienced this on the phone.
Why Is IVR so Popular?
It’s cost-effective — it’s convenient — it improves customer service. Well, at least it intends to.
One thing, for sure, it does is maximize communication and customer flow. Basically any business can operate 24/7 with the use of IVR. You don’t need to hire a particular staff to work a night shift with IVR. IVR does it for you.
Here’s the important thing, though, about IVR — it’s intended for high call volumes.
There’s the Rub and the Important Question
If you’re a small business, do you really need an IVR? Typically, small businesses aren’t really associated with high call volumes. Generally speaking, business in a small company operates on a person-to-person basis. Calls, not as much.
So how can IVRs be beneficial to a small business? Why implement a system that’ll cost something for something that might not reduce your costs for operation? Seems to be counter-productive.
Moreover, the sense we get from an IVR is that this company is so big that we absolutely can’t get a hold of a living person. Too many calls, not enough people. That describes a “big” company.
To make it worse, when was the last time you were ‘happy’ to hear an automated message? There’s something to be said about actually getting on the phone to talk to a real human being — an understanding human being who can really comprehend what you’re trying to say. There’s no IVR in the universe that can be as effective as your everyday customer service rep.
To Be Fair, Here’s the Answer to That Question
Again, how can small businesses benefit from this Invaluable Viable Resource? Let’s think positively for a moment.
The fact is this: IVRs are only as big as we make them. Let’s create one right now:
“Firstly, if you are Hispanic, press 1.”
“If you are wearing knee-high socks, press 2.”
“If you just ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, press 3.”
(Caller presses the number 2)
“If your socks are the color of blue, press 1.”
“If your socks are the color of green, press 2.”
“If your socks are the color of brown, press 3.”
“If your socks are a combination of blue and green, press 4.”
“If your socks are a combination of green and brown, press 5.”
“If your socks are a combination of green and blue and brown, press 6.”
“For all other colors, please stay on the line, and a real live person will connect with you to discuss your attire. Have a nice day.”
Get the Picture?
So that’s just an example — but I think it’s pretty clear. Needless to say, this type of IVR would make you want to throw the phone into your fireplace and douse the flames with gasoline. You’d waste countless minutes of your life for nothing, all because you couldn’t get a hold of an actual person who could give you real answers to your questions.
That is, however, not the fault of the IVR — rather, how the IVR is set up.
Small businesses can benefit pretty well and still maintain that inherent professionalism that comes with being a ‘big’ business without the ‘impersonal-ity’ of Phil. Sorry, Phil.
Basically, you just have to maintain a quick, easy, cut-and-dry setup. Figure out just what kind of calls you receive the most and have your IVR handle those. Or set it up so that the IVR weeds out the ‘personal’ calls, or the ‘prank’ calls, or even the ‘sales’ calls. Have your business focus on client calls with a simple ‘press 1 option’ or something like that, and then an immediate message stating that you, the business owner or manager, will call back immediately.
That right there will optimize your business, don’t you think?
Now if only an IVR can help you get a cup of coffee…. Or a donut?