10 March 2017


 March 10, 2017

Interactive Voice Response in Call Center


To improve their business capacity, a company needs to know what its customers think about the various services and/or products offered. To do that, many companies develop Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Those can monitor the customer’s experience in various ways, such as face-to-face interviews or online surveys. A typical and effective one is the Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The Interactive Voice Response is typically held on the phone by an automatic responder which asks standard questions to the customers and records their answer giving them the necessary time to speak between the questions.


1. Interactive Voice Response Methods

The Interactive Voice Response survey can be outbound, inbound or hybrid.

  1. Outbound: The outbound means that the customer is called by the company to collect information about the level of satisfaction of the client. Of course, this method will have more potential to carry out the survey, because the volume of calls is high. However, a thing to consider is that there is a consistent possibility that the customer will refuse to answer the questions.
  1. Inbound: In the outbound Interactive Voice Response, it is the customer who calls to submit the survey, of course prior invitation to do so from the company. Compared to the outbound Interactive Voice Response service, the calls volume will be way less, but if a customer calls the company spontaneously, he or she is more likely to carry out the survey.
  1. Hybrid: As we stated before, the main problem of the outbound Interactive Voice Response is that the customer is not willing to carry out the survey. This happens especially if he or she is called by an automatic responder. To partially solve this problem, many companies developed a hybrid methodology. That is, the outbound call is made by a human responder who asks the customer to answer some questions. If the customer agrees, then he or she is redirected to the automatic responder. This method has proven to be more effective. However, the costs are higher, because at first the responder must be an employee. Furthermore, some customers actually prefer the automatic responder, because it gives them the impression of being ‘anonymous’, giving them less embarrassment and more privacy.


 2. Interactive Voice Response Concept 

  1. After having decided whether to go for an outbound, inbound or hybrid Interactive Voice Response, it´s time to have a clear objective to achieve in mind: what does my company obtain by surveying? What kind of information do I need? Who is my target?
  1. The following step should be to think of the questions to ask. Prepare your questionnaire considering the target and the information you need
  1. Once you have the questions, you should try to pre-analyze the results that may come out of the answers. Even though you don´t already have real results, you should be prepared to act as soon as they come.
  1. Test the survey before going “public”. The best way to see if your Interactive Voice Response survey actually works is testing it to a small group of customers and see how they react. If something goes wrong, you will have a second chance to change things.
  1. After you prepared all the steps, you can proceed with the implementation and start survey-calling.


3. Interactive Voice Response Implementation

  1. Interactive Voice Response rating scale: If asked how happy they are about a product or service, people will use a large variety of words to say whether they are satisfied or not. The interviewer can´t consider every expression, since it is hard to put on a scale, for example, ´very satisfied´ and ´absolutely happy´. That is why a Customer Satisfaction Survey should use a standard rate scale so that it can be easily understood by everyone. As a result, the data collected will be reliable and effective. The risk of not using a standard rate scale is having incorrect results. Let´s imagine, for instance, having a rate scale up to 100. Many people might find it difficult to express their opinion correctly. Other mistakes could be, in the specific case of surveys conducted via phone, using rate scales containing numbers of more than one digit. If the rate scale is from 1 to 10 and the customer would like to type 10 but is not fast enough for some reason, the answer will be registered as 1, which is the opposite rating. Thus, considering that the rating has to be given via phone, you could use a scale from 1 to 5, 1 to 7 or 1 to 9.
  1. Interactive Voice Response question length: In order to be easily understandable by the customers, the Interactive Voice Response should ask short and direct questions. Furthermore, the questions should definitely not be too many. This means that, to have an effective survey, you should consider asking five to ten questions. Thus, you have to think in advance which questions you should prepare for the automatic responder, because probably you will need to leave some of them out. If you put more than a certain number of interrogatives, customers could decide that the call is lasting more than they want and will just stop answering, giving you just partial information. A good way to avoid this problem is to prepare more than 5-10 questions and randomly change some of them. For instance, the first ten customers will answer question 4a, the following ten 4b, etc. Nevertheless, you should remember to have a consistent data for each question as a result, so just keep the number of questions as low as possible. Another important thing is to inform the clients about how much time they are going to spend for the completion of the survey, so that they have an idea in advance.
  1. Interactive Voice Response question type: The questions prepared for the questionnaire should be easy to understand, concise and useful. Therefore, you might want to prepare a list of information you would like to have on the level of satisfaction of your clients, select the most important ones (see previous point (two): Interactive Voice Response question length) and ask them. The questions should regard one specific topic so avoid jumping from one matter to another or the customer won´t be able to follow your responder. If they are confused, people may want to quit before the survey is complete or just give quick (and therefore inaccurate) answers. So, as said before, questions should be concrete and short. Moreover, the questions should be asked (either by a human or an automatic responder) in a neutral way, in order to obtain a neutral answer. The risk is that if the questionnaire doesn´t ask the right questions in the right way, all the information will not be reliable and therefore not useful for further study.


4. After the survey

  1. If you followed the previous steps, you should have concrete and reliable results, which you now have to analyze to get useful data from.
  1. Remember that, especially in the inbound Interactive Voice Response method, most of the people who will submit the survey will be ‘extreme’: either very pleased or very disappointed by your product or service. The average customer does not leave any feedback, he or she simply purchases again if he/she is happy or changes provider if he/she is not. Therefore, do not expect any half-measure.
  1. Do not use premature data: if the survey is still ongoing and you didn’t get many results, wait for them to come. Using little and incomplete data might not be reliable and you shouldn’t spend time analyzing it.
  1. After you got all the information and you analyzed it, the next step is to treasure your customer´s opinion and make changes according to their expectation. Thus, once you´ve asked their opinion, it´s time to listen to it. They will be pleased to see that their suggestion was heard and, as a result, they will be happier and your business will grow.


5. Interactive Voice Response advantages

  1. The service is a smart way to collect information about the products or services of the company.
  1. Interactive Voice Response is cost effective, because the automatic responder allows you to spare time and resources.
  1. The information collected is immediately available.


6. Interactive Voice Response disadvantages

  1. It takes time to start the project
  1. The responses rate might be low
  1. The responses might not be accurate enough.


7. How can I avoid the disadvantages of Interactive Voice Response with Thakur International?

The disadvantages can be avoided if the service is outsourced to a company which has experience in Interactive Voice Response survey. With Thakur, International you can spare much time and resources just giving part of your task to our experienced staff. Furthermore, we tailor and prepare the questions according to your needs in order to build an effective survey. Thus, the response rate will grow and the answers will be accurate. We can collect the data for you and give you a precise analysis of the outcome of the Interactive Voice Response survey. Using our solution, you do not need any hardware, software or employers. We provide everything, from the concept to the testing to the implementation of the project.

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