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Home » Posts tagged 'IVR'

How to Reduce Hold Time in a Virtual Call Center

Are customers abandoning calls because they are waiting in line for too long? This can hurt your business if not taken care of quickly. Here we will look at a few different ways you can reduce hold times in your virtual call center.

How Can You Reduce Hold Time in Your Virtual Call Center?

A virtual call center is meant to handle calls made to the businesses they represent and offer quick and reliable customer service. However, if your callers are on hold or in long queues, then they will take their business elsewhere. And that is not good news for your call center. So, what can you do to reduce hold time in your virtual call center?

1. Experiment with Call Routing Strategies

The most effective way to reduce hold times is to distribute calls effectively. If all calls are going only to a handful of agents, then they will be easily overburdened. Consider implementing different routing strategies that route calls based on:

  • The time of day
  • The location of the caller
  • Skills required for the call (language)
  • Caller history
  • A predetermined line or schedule of agents
  • Simultaneous ringing, and more

These different call routing strategies will help you effectively distribute calls, thus ensuring that callers receive service quickly.

2. Invest in Cloud IVR Tech

Cloud IVR or an interactive voice response system is an automated voice response system. This system is designed and customized by you to meet your specific needs. The IVR system answers an incoming call and provides the caller with menu options such as Press 1 for ___ and Press 2 for ____. Based on caller input, the call will then be forwarded to the next set of options or to a representative ready to help.

Having a cloud IVR system handle and distribute calls can ensure calls are sent to the right agent and not passed around. Furthermore, the IVR may even be able to assist the caller without the help of the agent.

3. Train Agents Effectively

Training agents is of utmost importance. Even if new agents come with some experience, it is essential to train them for your specific call center. That includes how to use software and tech involved, how to navigate to your support or knowledge base, how to resolve common issues, and what to do when they do not have an answer, etc. To learn more in this regard, check out our article about managing virtual call center agents.

4. Study Call Traffic

Another way to reduce hold time is to pay attention to the days and times when most calls come in. Identifying high call traffic periods can help you schedule more agents or route calls to remote agents as well during those times. Either way, your team can be better prepared if they know which periods will be hectic.

5. Consider Chat & SMS as Communication Options

While phone calls are still the most preferred option for customer support, there is a whole section of the population that prefers non-phone options like SMS, live chat, email, etc. Having an SMS and live chat option can help your agents multitask and resolve queries without keeping users on hold for very long. It is therefore highly recommended that your business invests in technology that lets you send and receive text messages and also offer live chat on your website.

6. Create a Knowledge Base

A knowledge base is an online support portal with posts meant to help current users troubleshoot common issues, learn how to quickly add new services, and other useful information. Most knowledge bases will teach users about:

  • Billing services
  • Adding new services or accounts
  • Managing their current account
  • Resolving common issues

Make your knowledge base easily accessible so that users can get to it quickly and agents can share a link to callers. If most of your callers can resolve their issues on their own, then you will have fewer hold times in your virtual call center.

7. Monitor Agent Performance

Lastly, monitor how your agents are performing. You may choose to join calls or record calls and review them. Track important call center KPIs such as:

  • First call resolution rates
  • Average hold time
  • Average time in the queue
  • Abandoned calls
  • Response time, and so on

These KPIs can help you understand how your agents are doing and which areas need improvement.

Get Virtual Call Center Software with Global Call Forwarding

Global Call Forwarding can offer you the tools you need to improve and reduce hold times and customer satisfaction. You can get cloud IVR, call recording, detailed call logs, SMS forwarding, and more with us. Call to get started today!

8 Tips to Design a Customer-Friendly IVR System

Want to improve caller experience and customer satisfaction? Start by fixing your IVR system and making it more user-friendly. Here are 8 helpful tips to help you redesign your automated system and improve customer interaction.

Designing a Customer-Focused IVR System

IVR technology, or an interactive voice response system is an automated voice system used by businesses. This system interacts with callers before an employee does. It provides company information, identifies the purpose of the call, assists callers with possible solutions, and transfers calls to agents when needed. And by doing these tasks, it helps create a more organized and well-functioning communication system.

1. Offer 24/7 Customer Support

Your IVR system should always be open for business. That is to say, aim to provide 24/7 customer service with a well-executed IVR. Use prerecorded messages to provide support, instructions, and troubleshooting help. Offer basic information and answers to simple inquiries such as:

  • Company information (store hours, location, directory)
  • Product descriptions
  • Account balances
  • Shipping information, and so on

This way, even during off-hours and on the weekends, callers can get help for simple, basic concerns.

2. Use Voicemail and Callback Features

Part of providing 24/7 customer service is offering a callback option in the event callers are unable to resolve their call. This is helpful during heavy traffic situations, after-hours, and over the weekends. Create personalized voicemail messages for these types of situations and have the IVR system forward the call to voicemail. This way, they can leave a voicemail and wait for a call back from your business.

3. Avoid Providing Too Many Options

Too many options and overly-detailed prompts may lead to confusion and more misplaced calls. If there is too much to choose from, callers may not know what to choose and may select the wrong option. This leads to frustration and an unresolved call. Provide only the necessary options and details. Additionally, keep the language and easy-to-understand; avoid overuse of technical terminology and jargon.

4. Simplify Categories

Keep your IVR system structure simple. When you map out your IVR strategy, consider the main categories you want to provide help and information for. Under each category, try to stick to 4-5 options. Add a “Press # to hear these options again” button so that callers can hear the options again.

5. Use Human Voices

Callers connecting with a business are generally doing so to get a problem resolved. And they typically want to talk to a human representative immediately. Interacting heavily with a robotic automated voice may create some frustration in the mind of the caller, especially if they cannot find the right menu option or solution.

Most IVR service providers will allow you to upload voice recordings of your choice. Here is an opportunity to add a more human touch to your IVR system. It may not be possible to implement this at every step of the IVR, but try to do so whenever you can.

6. Pay Attention to Customer Concerns

An IVR system that provides irrelevant options or information is not useful to a caller looking for specific help. For this reason, it is important to be able to predict customer concerns and what they would be calling about. Watch what your competitors are doing. Conduct market research. Collect feedback from current customers. All of this will help you identify common issues and questions that you can include and target in your IVR system.

7. Cater to Your Audience

Depending on the type of business you run and the demographic you cover, you may want to consider a multilingual IVR. This will help with the different markets you want to target as you are providing a way for them to connect with your business. Make sure you have agents who speak those languages on the team as well so that your callers are fully satisfied.

8. Ask for Feedback

Finally, get feedback on your IVR system. After building and updating the system, you need to know how it is working. Ask your callers if they’d be willing to take a quick IVR survey. This could be a phone survey or a followup email or text message that they can complete on their own time. The point is to study how customers are interacting with the IVR and if improvements need to be made.

Get IVR Technology with Us

Global Call Forwarding offers a highly-customizable IVR system along with virtual phone number plans. Sign up today or call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 to learn more!

3 Common IVR System Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

An IVR system, when created right, can positively influence office productivity and efficiency. You can improve caller experience while distributing calls effectively and evenly with an automated system. However, there are some common mistakes often made when designing an IVR system and we’ll highlight them in this post.

Designing an IVR System

An IVR system or interactive voice response system is meant to ease the burden on the caller and the receiver. This is especially useful for companies that have large incoming call volumes. The interactive voice system, if executed properly, can reduce wait times, assist callers in completing tasks themselves, and also transfer the call to the right agent or department.

Thanks to growth in telecommunications, IVR technology has advanced to the point that it can be fully automated and operate without an agent needing to interfere. It will answer calls by using prerecorded messages and prompts to help callers navigate and find a resolution, to help them help themselves. And yet, there are some areas where you may fail when designing the system. Let’s look at the top 3 along with some other common mistakes.

1. Making the Prompts Too Complicated

When callers contact your business, it is usually to make an inquiry or have an issue resolved. And so in such cases, the sooner they can get assistance, the better. If your prompts are too complicated or too vague, callers may have trouble navigating the automated IVR system. It may prove hard for them to find the right answer for their concern. Additionally, if your prompts are too detailed and long, chances are, they may forget the options due to zoning out or not paying enough attention. This will result in misplaced calls and generate more frustration.

Solution: Provide only necessary information, keeping it simple.

Consider the value of each statement and see if you can redo it to provide basic information in less than two sentences. Remember: less is more. And reducing wait times is important as well.

2. Providing Too Many (Irrelevant) Menu Options

When designing your IVR system, keep in mind that while you want to provide as many options as you can, you do not want to overwhelm your callers. Confused callers will select the wrong option and end up in the wrong department which defeats the purpose of having an automated system.

Solution: Arrange menu options in easy-to-follow categories.

Consider the most common issues or concerns that arise and create menu options accordingly. This way, callers won’t get confused and will find what they are looking for quickly. Check out our article about IVR strategies for ideas on how to map out your system.

3. No Satisfaction Survey

It is important to know how your IVR system is doing and how callers are interacting with it. The whole point of such a system is to improve caller experience and increase customer satisfaction. Therefore, it is essential to study if your callers are satisfied with your customer service efforts.

Solution: Include a customer satisfaction survey.

You may choose to include an automated survey at the end of the call or send followup email or text messages. Remember to first ask your caller if they’d be interested in providing feedback before sending them IVR survey material.

Some Other IVR System Mistakes to Consider

  • Recordings that are unclear or of poor quality
  • Not enough language preferences
  • Poorly organized information
  • Long wait times or no approximate wait times
  • Jarring hold music or voice volumes
  • No call-back options
  • Hard to reach live representatives (in the case of fully automated IVR systems)
  • Outdated information

Create Your Ideal IVR System

Testing and feedback are two important aspects to take into account when setting up your IVR system. You want to make sure that it creates an easy-to-follow and comfortable experience for your caller. To learn more about IVR and how you can get the service, call us at 1 (888) 908 6171.

On-Premise vs. Virtual Call Center Software: How to Choose

Want to know if your business can benefit from an on-premise or virtual call center? Here we will run through a comparison between these two call center software types so that you can determine what is best for your needs.

The Call Center You Need: On-Premise or Virtual?

Deciding which software to use depends on the requirements, budget, and goals of your business. Let’s look at what each software type does and how each can be beneficial.

On-Premise Call Centers

On-premise call center software is run and controlled by the business itself. The hardware, software, and other infrastructure is held in-house. This means that the business is responsible for its maintenance, upgrades, and expenses. It also means that you have control over it and how it functions, which is a benefit for some companies. But others may not want to deal with hiring an IT team and the added costs.

Virtual Call Center Software

A virtual call center software is hosted by the server but runs on the cloud. This cloud call center handles customer support and success communications. The benefit of such a virtual call center is that all interaction between the business and its customers remains accessible from anywhere, via the internet. This includes inbound and outbound calls, email, instant messages, etc. Since customers are using digital channels to connect with businesses — such as email, instant messaging, etc — companies are switching to modern virtual call centers.

On-Premise vs Virtual Call Center Software

So, while both types of call center software have their advantages and disadvantages, how do you decide which is right for your business? It all depends on what you need and what you prioritize. Would you like full control of your inbound and outbound calling? Do you need to cut down costs? Determining what you want to get out of a call center software will help you identify which will work better for you.

Costs: An on-premise call center will require set-up costs. For example, you will need equipment, hardware, licenses, servers, and full-time agents. Additionally, you will have to spend on installations, upgrades, and maintenance.

On the other hand, using a virtual call center software will mean that you can build a virtual call center or virtual office and hire remote agents instead of needing on-site agents. Additionally, you won’t need to spend money on equipment or a physical office space. All of this helps increase savings.

Scalability and Reliability: Virtual call center software offers the same functionality and benefits of an on-premise solution. However, the former is far more scalable, reliable, and flexible. Changes to certain lines or numbers can be made quickly by the account manager or by contacting the provider.

Mobility: An on-premise call center will need an in-house team to run and maintain the system. This may even require you to be present on-site to ensure everything works according to the plan. If you desire a centralized, physical location, then an on-premise call center software will be more appropriate.

On the other hand, if you have employees working remotely or spread across the world, then a virtual call center will prove more beneficial, as everything can be monitored and tracked through the online account management system and your softphone. All you will need is a strong and reliable internet connection.

Advanced Features: An on-premise call center software can give you basic, traditional call center features such as call transfer, extensions, hold, voicemail, call logging, etc. However, a virtual call center will give you access to premium services such as advanced IVR, click-to-call, call recording and forwarding, and more.

Virtual Call Center Software with Global Call Forwarding

You can get the necessary tools to set up a virtual call center from a cloud-based phone service provider such as Global Call Forwarding. We offer local, international, and toll free numbers. Additionally, you can get advanced features such as Call Recording, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Outbound Calling, Call Reports, and more. All of these services can support your virtual call center. To learn more about virtual call center software or to start setting one up for your business, call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 to talk to an expert.

How to Create the Perfect IVR System for Your Medical Answering Service

As a business owner, it is your job to provide good and quality customer service to callers investing in your business. Whether it is hiring highly skilled agents or using advanced communication tools, you need to take the right steps to present your business as professional and valuable. Getting an IVR system for your medical answering service is one such step in the right direction.

IVR System: A Business Phone Solution

An Interactive Voice Response or IVR system is an automated voice response that answers calls before an agent connects. The system interacts with the caller, identifies the purpose of the call, and assists them by redirecting them to the appropriate department or by presenting more menu options. The IVR system uses pre-recorded messages and predetermined rules to do so.

Call centers and answering services generally have a large incoming call volume. Using an IVR system can help them organize and distribute calls so that customers are better served. This system can complete simple tasks and free up agents to focus on more complex duties. In some advanced cases, the caller may not even need to speak with an agent to get their query resolved.

IVR is one of the premium business phone solutions available to businesses in different industries. Virtual phone service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer a customizable IVR system along with their phone service plans. You can use this feature alongside call forwarding, call recording, extensions, etc.

Designing the IVR System

So, what is the best way to set up an IVR system for your medical answering service? Designing this system depends on what you want your callers to be able to do when they call your business. Before you create the system, map out the different options that callers will have and what actions you want them to complete without interacting with an agent. Consider these questions:

  • What departments will callers have access to?
  • How many levels do you want your IVR to have?
  • What actions can callers complete through automation?
  • Why should the caller be directed to an agent?
  • Would you like to distribute calls based on geographic location or language preferences?

If you have multiple office locations or want to cater to different language preferences, you can start by distributing calls based on geographic location and language. Then, you can move on to sort out new patients and existing patients:

  • If you are a new patient, press 1.
  • If you are a recurring patient, press 2.

The next level can then provide more specific options:

  • To make an appointment, press 1.
  • To request a prescription refill, press 2.
  • For our office hours, press 3.
  • To review our directory, press 4.
  • For queries regarding insurance, press 5.
  • For customer service, press 6.

Based on caller input, you can either have pre-recorded messages that provide the necessary information or direct calls to specific individuals specialized in providing the required help.

Why Does Your Medical Answering Service Need an IVR System?

Medical businesses use IVR for a variety of reasons, whether they are clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, clinical research labs, etc. It can be used to collect or provide information, process renewals and payments, and more. Your medical answering service can use such automation to:

  • Schedule appointments
  • Collect new patient information
  • Provide drug information
  • Offer company updates
  • Process payments
  • Record prescription refill requests
  • Perform basic clinical trial screenings
  • Register complaints and issues
  • Provide recall information
  • Collect feedback, and more

Organize, Manage, Serve

Global Call Forwarding offers IVR with every one of our plans. And this is because we know how essential such a system can be for the efficient running of a business. Our IVR system is customizable and can help you organize your medical answering service’s communications better. Sign up for a new business number, or port your existing number, and take advantage of the many virtual communications tools and services available. Call us at 1 (888) 908 6171 for more information.

Set up the Perfect IVR System for Your Finance Company

Improve sales, manage call volume, help customers self-assist by integrating an interactive voice response or IVR system within your office communication system. Enhance customer relations by choosing the right tools and services for your finance company.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR): A Financial Communication Solution

First, what is an IVR system? Interactive Voice Response is an automated response system that answers incoming calls and directs callers. It does so by presenting callers with pre-recorded menus and options to assist them in completing a task or reaching the right employee.

Most businesses incorporate IVR into their office phone system to maintain a professional image and they use automation to manage call volumes. Customers are always calling businesses to access information or resolve concerns. (Read about important facts regarding business phone calls here.) If used effectively and creatively, this service may fulfill most of the simple and mundane tasks callers may present. This allows agents and employees to focus on more complex calls and interactions.

Cloud-based phone service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer this service along with other virtual communication tools like call forwarding, call recording, unlimited extensions, outbound calling, etc. And so, you can easily integrate IVR into your business phone service by choosing a reliable provider.

Setting Up Your Company’s IVR System?

Setting up your IVR system depends on what you want to provide your callers and what your cloud-based phone service provider offers. You can either have a one-level or multi-level IVR system, depending on the different tasks you want your callers to be able to complete. For example, do you want to provide self-service options such as complete payments, review active accounts or credit/debit cards, purchase histories, etc.? Additionally, international finance banks may want to distribute calls based on geographic location.

You can start by distributing calls based on language preferences where the IVR system asks callers to input 1 for English and 2 for Spanish, and so on. Then, you can set up other activities, based on the categories. For example, to:

  • Learn more about our products and services, press 1.
  • To get information about your account (payment history, account balances), press 2.
  • To verify and activate a new account or card, press 3.
  • To register a concern or complaint, press 4.
  • If your call doesn’t fall under any of the previously-mentioned reasons and you want to speak with a representative, press 5.

Then, once callers move to the next level, you can offer more specific options. For instance, if a caller presses 2, then they may encounter a menu as the following:

  • Verify your account by entering the last 5 digits of your account number.
  • Thank you for that information. Now, for account balance information, press 1, for payment history, press 2, etc.

This way, customers move along a map of menus to complete the tasks they called for. And, for the most part, they are able to complete such simple tasks like this without the help of an agent or representative. This frees your employees to take calls that present as more complicated. And furthermore, they provide your clients with refined customer service.

Why Your Finance Company Needs an IVR System

So, what are some different ways you can use IVR for financial services? Your finance company can use such a system to:

  • Greet callers and assist them while an employee is busy
  • Transfer callers to the appropriate department
  • Provide basic information about products and services
  • Help them make payments
  • Verify/authenticate account information
  • Get account balance information
  • Check payment history
  • Activate accounts
  • Allow logging of complaints
  • Offer customer service, etc.

Besides the benefits of automating certain processes and handling call volumes, an IVR system can also boost your finance company’s professional image. It helps establish your company as one that cares about its customers and offers different ways for callers to resolve their concerns or issues.

 Get IVR with Global Call Forwarding

Global Call Forwarding offers IVR with each of its plans. And so, whether you are a small business or an established finance company, you can enjoy the benefits of having an IVR system. To get this service, simply sign up for a plan on our website, globalcallforwarding.com. To learn more, feel free to call us at 1 (888) 908 6171.