In today’s technology-driven world, many financial institutions are implementing the latest technology to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of their accountholders. While this is critically important, proven technology is also relevant and serves an important purpose in providing an outstanding experience for consumers.
As the shift to digital – and the increased consumer inquiries that accompany this shift – continues to expand, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a system that maintains an important role in the financial services industry. An automated phone system technology that allows callers to access information or complete tasks via a pre-recorded voice response system without having to actually speak with an agent, IVR typically provides a caller with a menu of prompts that they can then utilize to perform different types of actions. The caller can then interact with a software platform in order to self-service actions or tasks. Some IVR systems even incorporate advanced technologies such as natural language processing, AI and dual-tone technology to maximize their effectiveness.
In the financial services industry, IVRs can enable accountholders to pay bills, dispute transactions, report lost/stolen cards, place rewards orders, complete surveys, receive appointment reminders, make basic account changes, access account balance and transfer information and more. For credit unions, IVRs can also be utilized to facilitate outbound calls for follow-up, send collection notices via outbound calls, initiate fraud claims, provide helpdesk routing and facilitate no object certificate (NOC) assistance and routing.
Why are IVRs important?
With the rise in cloud infrastructure, the increasing adoption of advanced technology and the ever-increasing volume of calls, IVRs remain an important tool. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the global market for Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems was estimated at $4.2 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a revised size of $6.7 billion by 2026.
Benefits of IVRs
With an IVR, financial institutions are able to streamline call routing for contact centers or the main switchboard, ensuring that calls are secure, directed to the appropriate resource and can be categorized into different silos for triaging, while at the same time improving agent efficiencies.
By allowing your IVR system to handle certain types of calls, agents can focus on items that cannot be processed through an IVR. Some issues require the personal service of a live agent, such as agent webchat, account research and assistance with more detailed requests. In some cases, staff can be reduced if the IVR lift is great enough.
There are benefits for cardholders as well – especially the convenience factor. A 2021 study by Amex has shown that 70% of consumers would prefer the convenience of selecting from a list of existing personal payment methods instead of entering their payment information every time – an increase from 62% in 2019 and 61% in 2018. IVRs leveraging such options help increase the convenience and likelihood of prompt bill payment.
Additionally, many cardholders prefer to utilize an IVR over talking to a live agent for the time-saving factor alone. IVRs allow for 24/7/365 self-service and access to information. This non-stop availability leads to better caller satisfaction as they are able to find out needed answers or take care of tasks at the times most convenient to them. Cardholders also experience no hold time, no waiting and a lower likelihood for misunderstanding.
IVRs also provide a valuable service for callers who may have no other option but to conduct their business with your credit union via phone, such as members who:
- Have no internet
- Want to access information or take care of tasks without access to your credit union’s app
- Need to report a card as lost/stolen
- Want to submit payment via phone
- Are unable to go to a branch location in person
An IVR system is an asset to a credit union as part of a multi-channel payment strategy – reducing transaction costs, as calls that can be easily handled by automation are less expensive than ones handled by human resources. IVRs more effectively utilize your credit union’s employees as well, ultimately improving member experience and satisfaction by creating more efficient paths for the consumer when dealing with financial transactions.
Not sure how to make sure your IVR system is as robust as it can be or decide you want to implement an IVR for your contact center? Partner with a fintech or credit union service organization (CUSO) to help. IVRs still play an important role in your payments strategy, giving you the ability to serve members via phone while providing the exceptional service experience that your members expect from your credit union.
Rachel Fogle is Strategic Product Manager, Product Management at PSCU. In this role, she oversees PSCU’s card services IVR. Rachel joined PSCU in 2009, overseeing the Credit Union Student Choice partnership and has also held the role of subject matter expert in Contact Center and Lending for Solutions Consulting. She has over 20 years of product and account management experience in the financial services industry.