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Trends in 2013: Reducing call time through IVR

While in the past IVR technology has been used by businesses for FAQs, automating call routing to the correct department, performing a database dip to retrieve customer information while the customer is interacting with the IVR, and common messages, 3PL Worldwide has become more proactive in utilizing this technology as a cost-effective trade-off of technology versus labor in reducing agent talk time.

Think about your call center. A typical agent call lasts 3 ½ minutes, and in turn you’re invoiced with a combination of platform costs—which include reporting, fixed and variable telecom charges—and agent labor.

The following are four opportunities we have leveraged for our customers that have resulted in substantial savings through IVR usage:

I. Orders placed by customers without an e-mail address
Customers without web access will typically call in to confirm their order status. These calls often lasting 3 ½ minutes cost $.50-$.80 per minute per agent and will have a net impact of $1.50 to $2.50 per call. By using an automated outbound dialer with IVR calling, the comparative cost is a mere $.20 per minute—a potential $2.30 in savings per call.

II. Backorders requiring customer notification (FTC notices)
Using automated calls to customers and IVR technology, a program can be installed to electronically update customers on the status of their order. Traditionally, companies use postcards to update customers on order status, but the cost is increasing dramatically as direct mail prices climb and the USPS budget problems indicate no respite in sight. Postcards, printing and postage will cost you $1.00 to $1.50 per customer. Agent-driven phone calls can last two minutes or more and must be repeated if the customer is not home. But IVR will only cost you $.20 per minute.

III. Order confirmations
If your business deals with high order cancellation rates, an outbound IVR call-confirming practice can save significant money and eliminate the cost of returns. This can be coupled with live agent calls for the same purpose. But our experience indicates that live agents are best used when addressing high-value customers with the likelihood of additional upsell or cross-sell revenue.

IV. Preventing fraud
By setting trigger parameters on order size, order frequency, order value, or instances where items are shipped to addresses different than the billing address, IVR can be used very effectively to replace a live agent call at $1.50 to $2.50 per call, and/or avoid order cancellation.

Using IVR technologies in place of live agent calling, 3PL Worldwide has been able to drop its customer service call volume by 15%.

To get started, evaluate your inbound customer service reason codes and contact your 3PL provider to assess areas where live agent calls can be swapped with IVR technology to reduce costs for those customers lacking e-mail or necessitating only brief methods of communication. From there, your 3PL can discuss the best IVR technologies available.

Try it, and we guarantee you’ll be reaping the benefits of increased customer satisfaction and profitability throughout 2013!