Effective Uses of IVR Menus for Inbound Call Management

Building Efficiency into your IVR

What is an IVR Menu?

An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Menu is an inbound call management feature that allows an organisation to automatically filter their inbound calls to the call centre agents that are best equipped to deal with a specific customer query. This is achieved by playing an announcement message to the caller, which provides them with a number of options, and also instructions on how to choose a specific option. For example:

Thank you for calling Example Ltd. Please press 1 to place an order, press 2 to speak to the Customer Service Department, or press 3 to speak to the Accounts Department.

The IVR menu is then able to identify the choice made by the caller through recognition of the DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency), which is the sound made by the telephone when you press a number. Once the tone has been recognised by the IVR Menu, the call is routed to the appropriate department.

IVR Menus Evolved

The example above illustrates a very basic example of IVR technology and how it is used to effectively distribute calls internally, however, the examples below illustrate how far IVR technology has progressed, and how important it is for the efficient operation of many inbound call centres.

(1) Multi-level IVR Menus

There are times when a single list of options on an IVR Menu are insufficient to distribute calls to the granular level required by the call centre. For example, within a Sales Department you may have several sub-departments that deal with calls related to different products and services, new orders, and existing orders. A multi-level IVR Menu overcomes this problem by having a single option for sales, which then routes calls to a sub-menu that offers different options for all of the sub-departmental within the call centre.

(2) Data Capture

IVR Menus aren’t exclusively used for the distribution of inbound calls, and are more recently being used for data capture purposes due to the fact IVR Menus can recognise and record multiple strings of digits / characters via DTMF. Therefore, it is possible for a caller to enter specific information including their account number, date of birth, credit card information or PIN to an IVR Menu, which can then be used to populate an agents screen with customer information, or to take a payment from the customer’s credit or debit card.

(3) Time out options

As IVR Menus only work with telephones that have are touch tone enabled (make DTMF when keys are pressed), it is essential that any IVR Menu has a time out option on it to accommodate customers that do not have a touch tone telephone. A time out is a specific period of time that an IVR Menu will wait for a response, before routing the call through to a specific number or department. A time out is usually routed to a receptionist who will speak to a customer and then transfer the call once they have established the nature of the call.

(4) Voice capture

In recent years, the emergence of voice recognition software has led to many organisations incorporating the technology into an IVR menu. This means that instead of asking customers to press keys on their telephone, they actually speak their selection into the telephone. This is sometimes easier for the caller than entering text via a telephone keypad.

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