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Best Practice: Use Business Intelligence to Optimize Customer Self-Service

You have an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system in place, so you set it, forget it, and move on, right?


Most companies mistakenly treat their IVR like a self-sustaining system—part of the cost of doing business, and not much else. But, this is a major mistake, and the research proves it.

This past spring, Michael Flores, CEO of Bretton Woods, a specialty management consulting firm serving financial institutions, published a research paper commissioned by Contact Solutions on the role and importance of properly optimized IVR systems. The paper shows that IVR can reduce costs for companies, while simultaneously promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

According to the research, IVR is the first touch-point most consumers have with a company. It either facilitates a positive self-service experience, or drives consumers to opt for a more costly live agent. Unfortunately, many companies overlook the improvement potential in their IVR systems, and generally tend to consider it a “set it and forget it” technology. However, optimized IVR provides excellent, cost-effective customer service. Optimized IVR is built to increase goal completion within the automated system, but not necessarily solely to automate more customer service interactions.

A properly optimized customer self-service solution can lead to higher rates of self-service, lower contact center costs and increased customer satisfaction that a neglected IVR could never provide. If you’re not continuously improving your IVR, you’re leaving both money and customer satisfaction on the table. But, the good news is you’re not alone. Most companies aren’t properly measuring the effectiveness of their self-service solutions, and they also aren’t collecting the data necessary to make needed incremental improvements on a regular basis.

In addition to the positive effect on customer satisfaction, continuous improvement of your IVR can also do wonders for your organization. Regular, detailed analysis of customer interactions can provide an incredible amount of valuable feedback. For example, if a retail bank could know that seven out of ten customers use self-service to check account balances, but are not satisfied with the amount of time it takes to complete that task, the bank could improve this self-service feature for a quick  customer satisfaction impact. Continuous improvement provides the ability to find potential enhancements within your IVR system that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Rather than setting your IVR and forgetting it, think about this: intelligent, optimized IVR systems can offer your company a method for achieving competitive differentiation based on great service—while decreasing the costs of maintaining customer loyalty.