If you’re thinking of either implementing an IVR service for your contact center for the first time or looking to switch from your current provider, there are several factors to consider when deciding which company to go with. Although each IVR service provider may offer the same options and not seem very different from each other, it’s important to take a deeper look into other factors that can ultimately affect your company’s bottom line. 

Before shopping for an IVR service provider, identify the upcoming business goals for your contact center. Consider areas for improvement so that you know what features can help boost agent performance. An ideal IVR system should also be easy for customers to understand and navigate because it will be the first impression many of them will have about your company. Below you’ll find an analysis of ten features your IVR service provider should have and how they can help your company exceed expectations. 

10 features to look for in an IVR service provider

1. Self-service options 

An IVR service provider should offer several self-service options for your customers such as access to answers for basic questions, order status requests, and over-the-phone payments. Top companies know that the average consumer has come to expect self-service options. Customers don’t want to wait on the phone for 30 minutes only to ask a simple question that could be found online or answered by an AI Virtual Agent. 

Giving customers the ability to quickly track orders or find out their balances through an IVR can be far more convenient. This also prevents agents from spending time on unnecessary phone calls and allows them to better allocate their energy and expertise into helping customers with more complex problems. 

2. Omnichannel routing capabilities 

Chat, SMS, email, and phone are all different channels of communication that customers have come to expect from companies they do business with. An IVR service provider should be able to help your customers through their channel of choice for an enhanced service experience. 

NICE AI virtual agents allow customers to use an IVR system through phone and chat. Now that smartphone usage where consumers can choose between voice, chat, email, and SMS is standard, companies must make sure to provide customers with more ways to get in touch with them. This allows companies to stay competitive in their industries and up-to-date in user experience technology. 

3. Multiple options for customization

As business needs often fluctuate, so do the operational software programs and systems set in place. An IVR service provider should be no different. Contact centers can have wildly different call volumes from each other on any given day. An IVR service provider with an easy-to-customize menu, such as adding an alert for high wait times, is a critical feature to have. 

For example, unexpected inbound call volume changes due to unplanned quarantine periods for agents can be very stressful. Optimizing your IVR to ensure customers are taken care of, despite the call capacity, will keep your business running smoothly. The ability to quickly add a prompt that lets customers know wait times are high gives them an option. Customers can decide if they should wait, call back, schedule a callback, or find another way to get in touch. 

4. Scheduled callbacks

This simple feature is a must-have for any contact center. Customers have busy lives. The ability to schedule a callback from a company is not only convenient for them, but it also reduces call volume. High call volumes can easily overwhelm contact center agents and team supervisors. 

If agents are under pressure feeling as if they need to rush through each call, customer satisfaction rates can drop quite dramatically. A scheduled callback feature removes the stress for both customers and agents. Customers know they will eventually become connected and can go on about their day. 

5. Advanced voice recognition

Advanced voice recognition software allows customers to smoothly navigate to the right prompt or person to help them. One of the customers’ biggest frustrations with IVR is the constant interruption that background noise causes. Many times it’s not possible for a customer to make a call from a quiet place. Advanced voice recognition features, like the ones featured in the NICE IVR system, can save customers lots of headaches. 

6. Easy set up

Transitioning to a new process is already daunting enough. This is why the setup for a new IVR system shouldn’t be. Ask your provider to give you an overview of the setup process and see what kind of instructions will be available to you as the new system is implemented. Ensure that the IVR service provider you choose has expert consultants available in case you have questions as your contact center becomes acclimated to the new IVR. 

7. Five-star customer support

The IVR service provider you choose should offer world-class client support. Sometimes you may have questions or experience issues with the IVR system that you aren’t sure how to handle. Having professional and knowledgeable support ready to help you will prevent your company from encouraging irritated customers and burned-out agents. 

8. Ability to integrate with third-party applications

Third-party applications should be simple for your IVR service provider to add to your setup. It can create a host of problems and time-consuming workarounds when an application your contact center uses isn’t communicating with your IVR. One application that must be able to communicate effectively with your IVR is the CRM your agents use. 

Your IVR service should be able to seamlessly transfer customers who need live help and deliver the already gathered information to an agent. NICE IVR connects to its omnichannel CRM so that agents will have the data required for customers who need live assistance. Customers can be connected to agents via chat, SMS, or phone thanks to NICE’s omnichannel capabilities. 

9. 24/7 support 

This often-overlooked benefit comes in handy when an unexpected problem arises at an inconvenient time like late night or early morning. This doesn’t mean that the company must have 24/7 live agent support. Instead, an IVR can offer different ways for customers to get help. There is no need for clients to wait for support to open up because 24/7 help would be accessible with self-service options. NICE IVR uses AI Virtual Agents to answer basic questions, guide customers to self-service pages, or direct them to a knowledge base at any time. This all helps ensure that your contact center will always have access to the support they need.

10. Fast and accurate routing 

Getting routed to the wrong agent is one of the fastest ways to upset a customer. Your IVR service provider should offer a top-notch advanced voice recognition system to successfully transfer inbound calls. NICE’s ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) uses data from IVR inputs to capture the information needed to connect customers to the right agent. Not only does this improve the customer experience, but it also allows agents to save time by avoiding unnecessary transfers and holds. 

Not only do these outlined features provide significant benefits for contact centers and their agents, but they also lead to a much more satisfying customer experience. When an IVR system simplifies a contact center agent’s workflow by routing only priority calls, agents spend less time on unnecessary phone calls. 

Your agents can instead spend more time helping customers who need it most. The lightened call volume relieves the pressure agents and their supervisors feel knowing they have too many customers on queue. The overall enhanced workflow increases job satisfaction and agent productivity. 

Consider the features any prospective IVR service provider offers and whether or not they align with your business goals. The right IVR service provider should be able to easily answer your questions and understand your bottom line so that they know what features will have the greatest impact on your company. 

Why is an IVR a must-have for any business?

An IVR improves customer satisfaction rates, eases agent workflows, boosts agent retention, and allows companies to answer more customer inquiries in less amounts of time. Since an IVR can accurately field hundreds of questions, first-call resolution rates also increase. Customers have come to expect self-service options and round-the-clock support. As this has become the norm, those businesses who haven’t adapted to this fast-paced environment are quickly getting left behind.