You may already be using IVR (interactive voice response) to route calls to specific departments, to cut down on waiting times, and even to deal with simple inquiries to your call center or office. However, if you are only using it for these functions, then you may be missing a trick.
IVR can be a great tool that you can use to great effect to boost your marketing campaigns and to make them more effective, whether your priority is localized marketing or you are aiming at a wider geographic area. In turn, this can lead to better conversion and sales rates. How can you use interactive voice response systems to benefit your marketing and achieve your goals? Read on to find out.
What are interactive voice response systems (IVRs)?
While generally, interactive voice response systems refers to a type of software created for call centers (and other call scenarios) that depend mainly on voice recognition, they can have a wide range of uses. They are autonomous and automated systems that reduce the need for human intervention and direction and are mainly designed to assist customers and save them time.
IVR systems are most commonly used in call centers where they can help cope with large call volumes and handle simple queries, thus allowing human agents to deal with more complex queries. They can also help ensure that calls are directed to the correct department or team by asking some simple questions at the start of the call.
Interactive voice response systems are primarily AI-powered and use ML (machine learning) to improve performance over time. They can range from fairly simple systems with limited functions to more complex systems that can handle a wide range of queries and can conduct simple conversations with customers.
Marketing Technology News: MarTech Interview with Linda Shea, Executive Vice President Business Advisory Services at Big Village
How to use interactive voice response systems to benefit your marketing
1. Lead generation
Having a dedicated IVR number can be a great way of generating leads and interest. Someone could see an ad or post that piques their interest and call for more info. Your IVR line can act as a CTA (call to action) that answers some simple queries about the product in question, survey the customer, and can then move them through your sales funnel to the next stage.
For example, a customer sees an ad about regression testing. They call the number provided, get more information, and, if their interest is increased, the system can transfer them to a member of your sales team to hopefully close the sale or to answer more complicated questions about the product. Even without a sale, this offers an opportunity to collect crucial data.
2. On-hold messaging
Okay, no-one likes being on hold, and this is precisely one area that interactive voice response systems are designed to reduce. However, waiting times are sometimes unavoidable, especially at peak times of the day when call volumes are high. You have a number of choices in this scenario; you can have silence, you can have banal elevator hold music, or you can use your IVR to deliver marketing messages.
Of course, silence isn’t really an option, and most people despise hold music. So, IVR messaging is a good choice that can engage your callers with messages while still demonstrating that you care about the call (top tip; including an estimated time until the call is answered can also help). It also offers a great opportunity to tell callers about special promotions/offers or new products.
3. Research and data collection
When you again consider that waiting times will often be unavoidable, having that ‘captive audience’ can also offer you a chance to collect data and to do market research. Of course, time may be limited, so any surveys or questions you ask need to recognize that fact. Keep any surveys or questions as short and simple as possible.
The brevity of any research you conduct via your interactive voice response systems does not preclude the collection of quality data. Identify the data you want to collect or the most important questions that will enable informed decisions and incorporate them into the IVR messaging. You can also rotate any research and change the questions as and when needed.
4. Confirmation and verification
Let’s be honest here; customers can get a little fed up if they are receiving multiple marketing-related calls or emails. Combining your CRM (customer relationship management) system with your interactive voice response systems means that you can not only personalize the service you offer, but also cut down on the number of calls or emails a customer receives. Some level of personalisation is crucial when it comes to marketing tactics.
For example, a customer has purchased a hosted VoIP system from your organization. They call your team with questions regarding that purchase, your CRM recognizes them, and your IVR system can then provide them with updates as to when their VoIP system will be installed or other relevant details such as additional services that may complement their original order.
5. Automated mobile marketing
Although you may think of interactive voice response systems as something primarily designed for inbound calls, they can also be extremely useful tools when it comes to marketing calls. Most of your focus may be on optimizing online content for mobile devices and improving the overall online experience for your customers, but you should also consider IVR as an outbound marketing tool.
Cold calls are notoriously difficult, but if you are calling existing customers, or potential costumers who have agreed to be on your subscriber’s list, those targets are more likely to accept calls from a brand they know and trust. Given that your IVR systems are connected to analytics tools, this can be a great strategy that could lead to more sales.
The important thing to focus on is that interactive voice response systems are not a one-trick pony. There are multiple ways in which you can utilize IVR that can benefit both your business and your customers. Even startups who may only be at the stage of deciding to use a DBA may already be looking at how IVR can fit within their plans and business model.
In terms of a marketing approach, interactive voice response systems can deliver crucial marketing messages while also collecting important data that can include not only any contact information, but also the thoughts and opinions of your customers. Used properly, IVR can be a great way to interact with your demographic base while automating several steps in your marketing strategy.
Marketing Technology News: Four Key Disruptions Challenging, and Creating Opportunities, for Brands, Retailers, and the Digital Economy