For decades, customer service and support operations have held an important role in the way organizations operated their businesses. However, this labor driven operation was looked upon as an expense—just a cost of doing business. Organizations often sought ways to lower customer service / support costs by moving this function offshore or outsourcing, limiting ways customers could communicate with them and thus reducing contact center budgets or deploying technology to deflect and/or eliminate in some cases, the “human” contact.
The attitude that customer service / support is an expense began to change as companies put more focus on the actual customer experience and realized that there were opportunities being overlooked. According to research by Deloitte Digital, customer service interactions—especially those with human interaction—are the ones that were “most likely to build or break customer trust and loyalty.”1
BizReport recently reported that customer service and customer experience are now closely linked, which affects the way consumers regard a company brand. Among the findings reported, 73% of consumers want the ability to solve product and service issues on their own. For millennials, customer service expectations have increased since 2012 with 56% indicating that they’ll switch brands if they experience poor customer service.2
Benefits of Self Service
A trend toward self-service by consumers has also emerged and likely will continue to rise. More and more consumers purchase products online and experience delivery methods such as curbside pickup and at-home deliveries. These “touchless” ways of shopping often result in customers increasingly reaching out to businesses through email or phone with questions and requests for assistance. Providing additional options for self-service can improve the customer experience and cut down on frustration, long wait times and inability to reach a business after hours.
Looking a little deeper, it’s apparent that consumers increasingly want to troubleshoot problems on their own rather than waiting to interact with companies online or by phone. Often companies will become too preoccupied in handling common questions from consumers—What are your business hours? When is my next appointment? Did my direct deposit process? How do I drive to your location? — which can negatively impact customer service overall.
To jumpstart self-service options, businesses can provide access to information via intuitive website design and automation, knowledge bases, Interactive Virtual Agent (IVA) chatbots and back-office integrated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to their customers. For example, an IVR can be an option for handling common mundane inquiries. Doing so enables organizations to better manage their contact center agents’ time to more effectively manage incoming calls that directly affect the bottom line. Seamlessly resolving issues through the most-efficient channels equals a better customer experience, more customer loyalty and ultimately more revenue for the company.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, one of NEC’s customers was inundated with frequent calls related to common questions like those mentioned above. The company leveraged IVR to support customers who called after business hours, allowing them to press “2” and the company would text a link to their business hour webpage automatically. After implementing self-service, our customer deflected more than 800,000 calls.
A Solution for Customer Self-Service
NEC UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, back-end data sources, gathers information and routes calls to the appropriate representative, with insights to that specific customer. When customers have straight-forward questions (checking an account balance or paying a bill), the IVR enables self-serve for customers without using up the time of a live agent. When a customer’s problem extends beyond the dynamic menu, the IVR system quickly leads the caller to the most relevant agent available.
When implemented and configured correctly, IVRs can help boost sales and reduce churn. IVRs can increase customer satisfaction by enabling customer interactions to be handled and routed quickly and efficiently and reported upon afterwards.
IVR gives customers options on how to be assisted and leads them to the right information or agent for more personalized service. It also provides access during off-hours to information such as account balances.
UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE IVR makes configuration and deployment extremely simple, including adding prompts, such as:
- Initial Greeting/Welcome
- Language Preferences
- Tailored Self-Service Menu that offers informational prompts providing answers to common questions
- Access to the customer’s own personal account data
- Choices for accomplishing tasks such as making or canceling an appointment, placing an order, accessing their account or speaking to someone in customer service or a particular department
ENGAGE has a user-friendly intuitive wizard to streamline the set-up, for common IVR needs. Referred to as Easy-IVR, companies can quickly configure and build a simple step-by-step customized IVR that drive business and improve customer experience. Now, in as little as five minutes, non-programmers can either build an IVR or enhance an existing one quickly and easily.
ENGAGE offers a Development Studio for creating robust self-service / self-help and to integrate to external applications and data sources. Referred to as the IVR Studio, this component of the Admin Portal is leveraged by trained/certified users (partners and/or end user customers).
UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE is a cloud-based contact center solution that is fully equipped with Interactive Voice Response to improve the customer experience with seamless self-serve and customized service options.
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- “Elevating Customer Service: From Cost Center to Experience Hub,” Deloitte Digital
- “Report: Poor customer service pushes consumers away,” BizReport
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