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IVR Self-Service is the First Line of Defense for Overburdened Contact Centers

Written By
Ken Ong, Chief Technology Officer & Journey Data Expert, BryterCX

The COVID-19 impact on businesses worldwide continues to grow and companies where contact call centers play an integral part in customer support are seeing an unprecedented uptick in overall call volume. At the same time, they are forced to ask Customers Service Representatives (CSRs) to work from home or close contact call centers all together. A BryterCX client, one of the top ten largest banks in the US, has seen a 75 percent increase in calls and a 20 percent uptick in repeat calls. Another has seen hold times of up to two hours.

Combined with volatile market conditions, the shift toward more online self-service has reduced traffic to branch and other physical service locations as consumers migrate toward online and mobile banking options. This has made customer service even more important as the backstop when customers are unwilling or unable to complete their tasks on the web or in their mobile apps.  

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems serve as a valuable channel to enable consumers to get resolution and to mitigate the workload on customer support representatives. Digitally savvy consumers expect IVR self-service systems, web chats, and live agents to understand their needs and to work together symbiotically and seamlessly. However, customer support experiences are not keeping up with online channels. Journey analytics is a valuable tool for improving the customer support experience. 

Traditional analytics support single-channel measurements, such as call deflection rate, first call resolution rate and average call durationWhile these are useful first level efficiency measurements, they do not provide insight into the customer intent and experience, such as repeated attempts the customer made using different channels, or whether the customer successfully completed or abandoned their goal. 

Most analytics platforms lack the ability to define and analyze customer journeys meaningfully. Customer journeys enable an organization to understand the customer intent and the successes (or failures) of their interactions. While having visibility into the end-to-end omnichannel journeys is ideal, using just IVR and agent data enable customer support teams to optimize the effectiveness of the customer support experience. Increasing the effectiveness of the IVR self-service systems result in happier customers (higher NPS scores) and relieves the load on customer support agents. 


Getting More from the IVR 

The potential savings from a more effective IVR self-service system are substantial. One large bank receives approximately 12M phone calls per month. About 60 percent are contained by the IVR, meaning 40 percent of calls reach an agent at an average cost of $5 per call. Improving containment in the IVR by just a single percentage point would save $7.2M annually. 

At another company, 35 percent of callers don’t get past the greeting menu, 70 percent of those departing elect to speak with an agent; only 19 percent of callers get to the main menu.  

CX Journeys Call Center

Reducing Repeat Calls 

Companies with contact call centers already track per-call metrics – reasons for calls, the volume of calls, agent identity and so on. What a journey perspective adds are downstream connections to subsequent calls. This helps answer critical cost-related questions such as how often customers call back, why they call back, which agent interactions result in particular callbacks and more. Many companies use the traditional method of call listening to identify contact call center issues. This often leads to making inferences on a very small sample. By connecting the full multi-call journey for all customers, we can look more holistically at the issues driving repeat calls. This added insight makes it possible for companies to examine more closely where the problem occurs – process, person or otherwise – and address it with a suitable solution. 

Using customer journeys from IVR self-service systems and agent data, one EU bank noticed that agents with certain skill groups accounted for a disproportionate number of repeat calls. Changing the call routing rules and agent training/coaching increased first call resolution rate and, as a result, customer CSATThis contributed millions of Euros through both increased revenue and reduced support costs. 

Increasing Self-service Capabilities 

IVR self-service systems are often used as smart routers for customer agents. At one financial lending institution, 37 percent of customers who use the IVR are trying to pay their bills. Yet 71 percent of those callers are unable to complete the activity and transfer to an agent. Enabling customers to complete their tasks without needing to speak with an agent can substantially reduce agent load and increase CSAT 

Can authentication be improved to allow more customers to attempt self-service? If free-form speech recognition is enabled, how well is it able to understand what customers are looking for? Which interactions are affecting CSAT? Better understanding of IVR experiences that end in agent conversations can point to specific improvements.  

These are just a few of many opportunities and all are relatively easy using a journey perspective. With 20 years of experience, BryterCX has extensive experience helping clients optimize their journeys to yield operational benefits in months. If you’re interested in using customer journey analytics, request a demo and learn more about how BryterCX has helped leading financial institutions, utilities and other customer-centric companies optimize their customer support effectiveness and improve customer satisfaction. 

About the Author

Ken Ong Journey Data Expert

Ken Ong, Chief Technology Officer & Journey Data Expert, BryterCX
Ken Ong is CTO of BryterCX. He has extensive product and engineering leadership experience in analytics, including Engineering Director for Google Analytics, Senior Vice President for the Internet of Things Cloud at Salesforce, and Vice President for the Identity platform at Intuit. He was also co-founder and CEO of a banking software company.

View Ken’s profile on LinkedIn


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