What is IVR deflection?

IVR stands for interactive voice response, and is a tool typically used to respond to customer queries at call centers. 

IVR deflection is a specific technique that seeks to improve the IVR customer experience, allowing customers to have a multichannel experience. 

“Most of us are familiar with the experience of calling a customer service line and being prompted with automated voice responses”

For instance, when a customer calls for customer support via the telephone, IVR deflection may refer them back to an online form, or allow them to finish the interaction via chatbot, text, or email, based on their preferred communication channels.

Most of us are familiar with the experience of calling a customer service line and being prompted with automated voice responses.

In those instances, an IVR platform accepts the call and routes it to the appropriate representative, or offers automated help based on your verbal responses to a series of prompts. 

IVR deflection takes it one step further by adding in additional channels. Say you call your internet service provider’s customer service line. The IVR may allow you to say something like “add new service” or “pay a bill.” . From there, it may direct you to a specific portal on your computer, where you can select from a dropdown menu to complete the transaction, or else allow you to chat with a customer service representative rather than continuing on the phone. 

Similarly, if you call a customer service line in need of technical support, IVR deflection may direct you to a web-based FAQ page or other online support resources, such as an external knowledge base. In this case, you’ll likely reach a resolution to your issue or query faster than you would have on the phone, while the customer service team will have one less in-person call to respond to in real-time: a win-win situation for all.

Benefits of IVR deflection

IVR deflection helps customer service groups handle large call volumes and provides customers with efficient responses. 

In some cases, IVR deflection also empowers customers to find answers for themselves, reducing the number of subsequent support calls and helping to educate them on your company’s products and services. 

Ultimately, this helps to bring down the costs involved with staffing a customer service team by leveraging your content, digital resources, and other channels.

Of course, not all customer needs can be deflected, and not all customers are comfortable resolving their issues without the help of an actual representative. IVR deflection is beneficial because it grants customers the choice of which channels they are most comfortable using. At the end of the day, this leads to more pleasant interactions for both your customers and your employees.

IVR deflection vs. call center automation 

While IVR deflection and automation share some similarities, they are not actually the same. Both techniques seek to ensure customers reach the right level of customer service without putting unneeded stress on customer service teams. 

IVR deflection typically takes place on the phone, whereas automation can occur across channels, from the phone to desktop to SMS. IVR deflection typically involves an automated phone system that customers interact with by reciting a given number, keyword, or by entering specific numbers on their dialpad before deflecting the call. By contrast, when reaching a contact center, automation technology may ask customers to talk or type naturally as they might to a human operator before referring them to the appropriate tier of service. 

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