It’s the existential dispute in customer service; live agents versus automation with a smart IVR. Customer service is the new differentiator for consumers who generally see parity from one product to another. Poor experiences can turn customers into non-customers, or worse, vocal detractors. It’s essential to get it right.
On one side, the argument is that customers love to hear a live person answer their call. While perhaps “technically” accurate, this position is often embraced by the operators of outsourced call centers. Poorly designed IVR systems often add fuel to the “fire” of this perception.
On the other side, the reality is that customers want a fast resolution. A smart IVR can easily give the answers callers need to nearly 70% of all calls. Moreover, customer service futurists like Shep Hyken see a future where the customer service AI knows a someone will need help before they do.
The secret sauce is to design a contact center with the right blend of both. Here’s how we did it.
Never Stop Solving Problems
This story begins several years ago when a friend of IVR Tech Group was in a bind. Tom (that’s not our friend’s name, but Tom works for now) was managing a contact center that was using a cloud-based call center software solution. Most of the time, it was great, but “the cloud” wasn’t yet ready for the demands of peak call volume. Tom’s provider was amid some potentially long term service degradation with no definite resolution date. Unfortunately, Tom was less than 36 hours away from an expected massive spike in callers. Dropped or unsuccessful calls were going to be intolerable.
Tom called us in a panic, as great solution stories often begin, and in dire need of a quick fix. Our engineers listened to his issues, ran some tests, and determined the call center software was at fault (too many customers on a multi-tenant install), not the networks. So they worked through the night to create, test, and deploy a custom IVR that took over from the cloud software, and routed inbound calls to agent’s cell phones or landlines. Not elegant by any means, but Tom was no longer panicking, and that made us and him happy.
Seriously, Never Stop Solving Problems
Some years later, Tom is the lead at another call center. This time he’s with a rapidly growing financial services company in a well-defined niche. He’s using an outsourced call center provider, along with an IVR from one of the big names in the business. Like Hyken, Tom is a customer service futurist; he knows that smart voice automation can resolve as many as 70% of their calls. The problem is, his IVR provider is unresponsive to his needs.
Tom needed an IVR that integrated with their CRM to intelligently give callers answers to a growing list of mundane questions. This way, he could reduce the number of agents at the call center down to the best-trained and best-performing.
Here is the best part; we get to work with Tom again and help him achieve results he can’t get on his own. We convinced Tom that our Compass Automation Platform provided the flexibility he needed, along with an agile connection into his CRM.
Once You Solve A Problem, Follow Through
After a few months of planning and system design, we launched our smart IVR with Tom, and he saw an immediate improvement in callers spending more time in the IVR, and less time with live agents. Results. Tom was happy. At this point, most tech companies celebrate the big win, high-five each other, and have a Fortnite tournament. So we could have done that, except we were watching the data.
While the voice automation of the smart IVR was performing well, our engineers saw unexpected wait times and dropped calls. It turned out that there were some issues with his CRM’s API (how we connect to get and update his customer’s data), issues that occasionally caused significant delays in data lookups. Our people worked with his people, and eventually, the problem was solved. And BAM! Callers getting resolution in the IVR started approaching the mythical 70%, with rising CSAT scores, and happy customers through first-call resolution.
IVR Voice Automation Living Happily With Live Agents
The right blend of smart automation powered by your CRM, with a ninja-squad of friendly well-trained agents is the perfect mix. We helped Tom elevate himself in his new company, and we enjoyed solving problems for an old friend.
Today, the system is working so well that we’ve been invited to spend time with the senior management to discuss how a smart IVR can help get more customers. Solve problems. Make heroes. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.