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November 08, 2007

Hosted IVR Systems Lead to Reduced Customer Care Costs

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


Organizations throughout the world have experienced increases in intense competition. In some industries, this competition has become such that products and services have become commoditized as there is no room for price incentives. As a result many of these organizations have focused their efforts on achieving differentiation in customer service.

While such a strategy can be very rewarding, it can also be costly as effective customer service is not inexpensive. For the innovative company however, there are ways to optimize specific solutions to minimize the financial resources needed to deliver exceptional customer service.

Interactive voice response (IVR) is one such innovation that can contribute to improving customer service, while also reducing the cost of delivering that service. Consumers demand real-time information and solutions and in order to meet this demand, organizations must have the tools and the manpower necessary.

With an effective hosted IVR system, the organization can still deliver the real-time information that customer's demand, without adding additional bodies to the customer service lines to answer standard questions that can be addressed in a hosted IVR system.

Consider, for instance, the customer that is calling his or her cable company to determine the date that their last payment was received or to add or remove a service. These standard activities can be accomplished through the hosted IVR system, freeing live agents to address more complex issues. The customer receives quick resolution that generates satisfaction and the company used minimal resources to serve the customer.

The customer service division of the company, often the contact center, is one of the biggest drains on capital resources for the company. This division is essential however, in order to protect the base and help to drive revenues. Eliminating customer service deliverables is not an option, but finding more efficient ways to deliver this service can lead to increased productivity and lower costs overall.

Beyond offering a self-service channel to handle standard customer requests, a robust hosted IVR system can also make the contact center itself more efficient. The hosted IVR system can be used to pinpoint exactly why the customer is calling in order to determine which department or individual is best suited to serve that particular customer.

In doing so, the customer is immediately connected to the right individual to provide quick resolution. The contact center agents spend less time per caller and therefore can handle more calls per day. The more calls the agent can effectively handle in a day, the fewer agents that are needed overall for the center to run smoothly. 

While many customers still prefer to speak with a live agent, the reality is that as busy individuals, we tend to demand information quickly and will use a system that will deliver what we need when we need it. For that organization seeking to deliver on such demands, a hosted IVR system can create satisfaction and efficiency for all involved.
 
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
 
 



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