Automation is a simple strategy that can go a long way to making your business more productive.
In terms of phone systems, there are all kinds of options for businesses to integrate automated customer service into their daily operations. This can help save time and money, in turn decreasing the stress of day-to-day tasks.
Below are four simple ways to introduce automation into your phone system at work.
1) Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System
An IVR system can deliver thousands of messages per minute. Many of these systems are web-based, which means that businesses don’t need to buy additional hardware, software or phone lines to implement this. Via a web portal, businesses can designate a single message to all or selected recipients, with the option to merge personalized messages to avoid the mass-mailing appearance.
IVR systems use voice and DTMF tones to communicate, providing an automated and inexpensive middle-service for payments such as retail orders, utilities, travel information and mobile purchases. An IVR system receives an input, process it and returns a result. This is different than an automated attendant, which simply routes calls.
2) Dial-by-Name Directory
When you call a number and are greeted with something along the lines of “Press 2 to speak to the marketing department”, that’s a dial-by-name directory. It’s more appealing for a business with multiple departments, who can’t expect potential and current clients to manually look up each department’s number.
The automated directory can list by a department or specific employee, with businesses having the ability to personalize even more through a cloud-based VoIP phone system. An auto-attendant is operating the directory, routing each call appropriately.
Businesses can experience a 50 percent increase in productivity by implementing some type of phone answering service, such as an IVR system or dial-by-name directory. As a result, it’s something that all businesses regardless of niche should consider.
3) Voice Communication Alternatives
We live in an era with ample communication methods, from text messaging to video conferencing. Allowing customers to communicate beyond the conventional phone call shows a tech-savviness and personable nature that can play well, while also making the phone lines less congested. Aligning customer service with text messaging or SMS capabilities, for instance, can result in higher customer satisfaction due to faster response times.
Some businesses are taking the next step in increasing communication methods by providing self-repair services option. For example, Verizon Fios now utilizes automation in its tech support efforts. Users are able to select what’s wrong and have an automated service identify and repair the issue, via automation-friendly methods such as resetting the router or checking for nearby outages or ongoing repairs.
4) VXML Telephony Server
A VXML telephony server contains the software that controls various functions such as voice recognition, DTMF recognition, and text-to-speech, clearly making it an integral aspect of maintaining the effectiveness of an IVR system. Sitting between the phone network and the internet, the VXML telephony server can successfully accommodate database-related information, like being able to tell calling customers their current balance or list of recent transactions.
This type of server helps elevate automated phone systems from sounding robotic to feeling completely personalized.
Automating your business’s phone systems can cut employee costs since there will be less of a need for phone-specific roles, while also keeping your IT staff from devoting resources to manual responses or complicated phone line inquiries. Additionally, automated phone services provide constant uptime, making the line-is-busy sound a thing of the past. What previously may have been lost business is now taken care of by automation, ensuring more customers and a strong customer service reputation.
Originally published Jan 12, 2017, updated Aug 12, 2020