A hosted IVR system refers to an interactive voice response system that is hosted in the cloud rather than on physical hardware on a company’s premises. Hosted IVR delivers automated voice menus and self-service options to callers over the phone using a cloud-based platform.
Some key benefits of adopting a hosted IVR solution include:
- Improved customer service – Hosted IVR systems can provide fast, 24/7 self-service as well as seamless hand-offs to live agents. This improves first-call resolution.
- Increased efficiency – Automating common calls with IVR reduces the need for live agents to handle routine inquiries. This lowers costs.
- Enhanced analytics – A hosted platform makes it easy to track IVR usage and optimize the experience. Real-time reporting provides insights.
- Omnichannel integration – Hosted IVR integrates smoothly with other channels like chat, SMS, websites and mobile apps.
- Scalability – Cloud-based IVR easily scales to handle large call volumes. Resources can be added to match demand.
- Fast deployment – New hosted IVR applications can be designed and deployed quickly without lengthy hardware installations.
Key components of a hosted IVR system include:
- Automatic call distribution to route calls
- Speech recognition to interpret callers’ spoken responses
- Touch-tone input as a fallback option
- Call forwarding to agents or external numbers
- Text-to-speech to read out menu options and information
- Self-service options like account balance checks
- CRM integrations to access customer data
- Admin portal to manage the IVR flows
Migrating to a hosted IVR solution can significantly improve the customer experience and operational efficiency of call centers and phone support teams. This introduction covers the main benefits and use cases of hosted IVR.
Best Practices for Hosted IVR Systems
Implementing an effective hosted IVR system requires following some key best practices:
- Use clear voice prompts – Speak slowly and clearly, and keep menu options short and concise. This improves comprehension.
- Limit IVR menu depth – Don’t nest menus more than 3-4 levels deep. Allow callers to easily speak to an agent or go back.
- Offer fast access to a live agent – Include options like “agent” or “representative” to immediately reach a person.
- Provide IVR menus in multiple languages – Support your full customer base by offering language options upfront.
- Use high-accuracy speech recognition – Invest in quality speech-to-text transcription to minimize errors.
- Set up fallback to touch-tone – If the IVR doesn’t understand a caller’s speech, prompt them to use their phone keypad.
- Personalize with caller data – Identify known customers and customize prompts using their info.
- Allow callers to interrupt – Say “or just tell me…” to let callers skip ahead.
- Offer SMS and visual options – Give callers alternatives like texting keywords or using visual IVR.
- Monitor analytics closely – Review IVR usage data daily and tweak flows to optimize.
Following these tips will help ensure your hosted IVR system delivers an excellent customer experience through user-friendly menus, self-service options, and omnichannel capabilities. Focus on clarity, convenience, and personalization.
Use Cases for Hosted IVR
Hosted IVR (interactive voice response) solutions offer many benefits for businesses of all sizes and across industries. Here are some of the top use cases for implementing a hosted IVR system:
- Auto-attendant – Hosted IVR can act as an automated receptionist that answers calls and routes them to the correct department or person. It can provide information on business hours, locations, and more.
- Call centers – IVR systems can handle inbound calls for customer service, sales, and support teams. The IVR can route calls, provide options for languages, and connect callers to the right agents or queues.
- Self-service – Allow customers to access account information or make payments without speaking to an agent. IVR systems can authenticate callers and provide balance information, take payments, and more.
- Lead generation – Use IVR to qualify inbound calls as leads, gathering key information through questions to determine if the caller is ready to buy.
- Customer surveys – Conduct inbound and outbound surveys through IVR to gather customer feedback. Surveys can be short, timely, and customized.
- Product research – Survey customers testing new products and gather feedback through IVR surveys. Questions can be updated as the product develops.
- Televoting – Hosted IVR enables viewers to call in and vote for contestants/options on TV shows, charity events, etc.
- Status updates – Transportation companies can use IVR to confirm deliveries. Callers authenticate and enter tracking codes to update their status.
- Information lookup – Airlines use IVR to allow passengers to check luggage status by entering their flight details. The IVR provides location updates.
Benefits of hosted IVR systems:
- 24/7 availability
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Reduced costs
- Improved employee productivity
- Enhanced brand reliability and trust
- Customizable for any business model
- Scales to handle call volumes
- Automates simple calls and self-service
|Auto-attendant||Routes inbound calls to the right agents or queues|
|Call centers||Survey customers testing new products and gathers feedback|
|Self-service||Allows customers to access info or make payments without an agent|
|Lead generation||Qualifies inbound calls by asking questions to identify leads|
|Customer surveys||Gathers feedback through inbound/outbound IVR surveys|
|Product research||Survey customers testing new products and gather feedback|
|Televoting||Enables viewers to call in and vote on TV shows, events, etc.|
|Status updates||Allows companies like transportation to confirm deliveries|
|Information lookup||Provides info like luggage status by collecting flight details|
Hosted IVR solutions are highly versatile and can benefit organizations across many industries and use cases. The above are some of the most common ways businesses are leveraging IVR technology to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the customer experience.
Choosing a Hosted IVR Provider
Selecting the right hosted IVR provider is crucial to get an effective system that meets your business needs. Here are some key factors to evaluate potential providers:
- Analytics and reporting – Look for robust, real-time analytics on IVR performance, call volumes, routing, contain rates, and more.
- Scalability – Ensure the provider can easily scale to handle your peak call volumes without disruption or quality issues.
- Integration capabilities – The IVR should integrate smoothly with your CRM, payment systems, mobile apps, and other software through APIs.
- Customization options – You need the ability to fully customize IVR prompts, menus, workflows, self-service options, and agent routing.
- Security – Confirm the provider offers high levels of security, encryption, and redundancy to protect your data.
- Compliance – Verify the IVR platform is compliant with regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR that apply to your business.
- Reliability – Look for guaranteed uptimes of 99.9% or higher to avoid IVR outages.
- Customer support – Get 24/7 support and quick issue resolution in case any problems occur.
- Pricing model – Compare pricing models like per-minute fees, per-call fees, and unlimited monthly plans.
Thoroughly evaluating multiple hosted IVR providers on these criteria will help you select the optimal platform for your call center and customer service needs. Investing in the right solution will maximize ROI and improve experiences for callers.
Getting Started with Hosted IVR
Hosted IVR (interactive voice response) systems provide businesses with flexible, scalable solutions to improve customer service and streamline operations. Here are some key steps for setting up, testing, training staff on, and promoting a new hosted IVR system:
Steps for setting up a new IVR system
- Define goals and use cases – reduce wait times, automate tasks, route calls, etc.
- Select a provider that offers easy setup, customization, scalability, and integration.
- Design call flows that are simple, intuitive, and include self-service options.
- Record professional voice prompts that are clear and easy to understand.
- Integrate the IVR with your phone system, CRM, and other tools.
- Test extensively before launch to identify any issues.
Testing and optimizing the IVR experience
- Perform load testing to confirm the system can handle expected call volumes.
- Monitor containment rate, completion rate, dropout rate, and handle time.
- Run A/B tests to optimize menus, prompts, and flows.
- Do user testing to identify pain points from a caller’s perspective.
- Analyze data and make incremental improvements over time.
Training staff on using the IVR system
- Familiarize agents with IVR menus, routing, and self-service options.
- Practice scenarios for handling common customer inquiries post-IVR.
- Monitor performance and provide feedback to agents.
- Have escalation protocols for when agents need to take over calls.
Promoting new self-service options to customers
- Advertise IVR capabilities on websites, bills, emails, and social media.
- Highlight benefits like faster service, 24/7 access, and anonymity.
- Provide clear instructions for using IVR and available self-service options.
- Use prompts or pop-ups to nudge customers towards IVR when applicable.
Monitoring performance and iterating
- Track usage metrics like containment rate and customer satisfaction.
- Gather feedback through surveys, social media monitoring, and direct input.
- Refine menus, prompts, and flows based on metrics and feedback.
- Add new features like personalization, natural language processing, etc.
Getting started with a hosted IVR system requires careful planning, testing, training, promotion, and iteration. By following these steps, businesses can implement IVRs that create seamless, satisfying customer experiences.
Hosted IVR provides significant benefits for businesses looking to improve their customer experience and call center operations. Here are the key takeaways:
Summary of key benefits of hosted IVR
- Cost savings – Hosted IVR reduces infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrade costs compared to on-premise IVR solutions.
- Scalability – Cloud-based IVR can easily scale up or down to meet changing call volumes.
- Reliability – Hosted IVR leverages cloud infrastructure for higher reliability and uptime.
- Advanced capabilities – New features like natural language IVR, visual IVR, AI, and omnichannel integration.
- Improved CX – Shorter call times, faster issue resolution, and omnichannel consistency.
Hosted IVR as part of an omnichannel strategy
- Integration is key – Hosted IVR integrates with other channels like web, mobile, and messaging.
- Consistency across channels provides superior CX.
- Efficient routing based on customer data and history.
- Proactive outreach via SMS and messaging.
- Seamless transitions between self-service, digital channels, and live agents.
|Channel||Hosted IVR Integration|
|Phone||Core IVR capabilities|
|Mobile||Visual IVR, messaging|
Future of IVR with AI and natural language processing
- Conversational IVR with natural language improves self-service success.
- Predictive routing based on caller intent reduces transfers.
- Personalization improves CX and loyalty.
- Scalability to handle growing call volumes.
- Analytics and machine learning allow continuous improvement.
- Omnichannel orchestration for seamless CX across all channels.
In summary, hosted IVR delivers significant benefits today, and continued innovation will provide even more capabilities in the future. Adopting hosted IVR as part of an omnichannel strategy is key to providing superior customer experiences.
What are the main benefits of hosted IVR?
- Cost-effective, easy to implement, scalable
- Improves customer experience and call routing
- Provides analytics and insights into call data
- Flexible to build innovative voice solutions
What are some limitations of hosted IVR systems?
- Can frustrate customers with poor design
- Lacks human touch compared to live agents
- Risk of losing customers with bad IVR experience
What factors should you consider when choosing a hosted IVR system?
- Call volume, number of menu options
- Ease of use, flexibility, scalability
- Voice quality, integration, analytics capabilities
How can you design an IVR system for a positive user experience?
- Use natural language processing and clear menu options
- Allow callers to speak to an agent if needed
- Ensure menus are easy to navigate
What are the key components of a hosted IVR system?
- Speech recognition, voice biometrics
- Self-service options, CRM integration
- Proactive channels like SMS, visual IVR
What common industries use hosted IVR systems?
- Healthcare, retail, financial services
- Travel, telecom, utilities, government
How much does a basic hosted IVR system cost?
- Around $10-50 per month depending on features
- Scales based on the number of phone lines and capabilities