We’ve all done it; we call into a company, and rather than listen through all of the prompts, we skip the IVR experience and just press, “0.” For many of us, this feels more convenient because we can describe our issues to an agent and hopefully get a quicker resolution.

Business owners need inbound callers to use self-service options. Having agents engaged with customers on incoming calls that could be resolved autonomously clogs up call volume and slows down customers who need direct assistance.  Interactive voice response solutions are designed to provide a self-service customer experience and to lower handle times.

Call centers improve customer interactions when IVR technology is optimized to enhance IVR performance. This is also why many companies need to adopt better strategies and technologies to improve their IVR containment rate.



What is IVR Call Containment?


IVR call containment is a metric used to calculate the effectiveness of IVR systems. A high percentage of contact center calls should be “contained,” by being funneled through the IVR system for a resolution without the need for a contact center agent. A high IVR containment rate means fewer calls dropped and no one on hold.

For example, if we have a customer calling in to just pay his or her bill, the IVR can usually get all of the needed info and help them autonomously through the process. Still, with the wrong IVR structure, this same customer may just press “0” thinking that conferring with a rep will make the process faster. If you fail to set up IVR or call priority queuing, you can completely waste the time of the agent and reduce operational efficiency.

IVRs are built using auto attendants or “phone trees” that present the customer with options that they respond to either using dual tone multi frequency (DTMF) inputs or their voice. If the information isn’t clear or the trees are overly-convoluted, then the customer will seek out an agent.

Based on a study performed by Clutch, 70% of customers will try to press “0” when utilizing IVR. This isn’t limited to DTHF systems – 65% of callers will try to use words like “operator” or “agent” to expedite processes. Clearly, IVRs have to be optimized so that customers will get the service they need without tying up agents.


How do You Improve IVR Containment Rates?


ivr containment rates

Strategic implementation improves call containment. One of the first steps to take is to decide what results you’re trying to achieve with your IVR. Is it streamlined for customers? Is the recording clear? Are there extraneous options? Evaluate your system and determine if there’s a need for an update.

Improving call containment requires the evaluation of your system and optimized implementation.


Improve Auto-Attendants

One of the most critical steps that you should take when building an IVR experience is to ensure that the IVR phone trees, also known as auto attendants, relay all of the pertinent information. This means that you should ensure that your IVR quickly gets to the point and is informative. IVR serves as the first point of contact with a caller, so keep messages short and sweet and introduce the customer to their options early.

You’ll need some form of introduction for your company, but limit it to eight seconds or less. These messages are great for promoting a brand, but when they are too long, they will bore the caller. IVR menu options should be short as well. A caller shouldn’t have to sit through long descriptions in order to get to the product or service they need – save the upselling attempts for later. A sound IVR system routes inbound calls to the right location quickly to minimize boredom and impatience.


Invest in Custom VoIP Solutions

IVR solutions come in a variety of flavors, and some providers have a simplified system that doesn’t offer much complexity. If you want to improve call containment, you should consider a custom VoIP phone service solution to meet the needs of your customers. For example, some companies offer a visual IVR designer. This helps companies dynamically change up their IVR by using drag and drop. Does your IVR need tweaks? This makes adjusting the user experience easy.

You can also utilize systems that come with customer satisfaction survey functionality. This type of system will allow the customer to gauge their experience with the IVR system itself, which will help you find ways to tweak it to boost call containment.


Add IVR Analytics

Call center analytics data is something that you can’t afford to ignore. Some IVR systems can provide the center manager with call center metrics about its performance, covering major KPIs.

Where are customers exiting the system? Are there bottlenecks? Which scripts for which campaigns are providing the best results? Is the customer journey as smooth as it can be? IVR analytics will help you tweak your IVR system by helping you visualize flow and customer experience as live agents interact with callers.


Include IVR with AI

IVR and AI seems like a very intuitive match, and many providers are certainly coupling IVR systems with virtual assistants to make the IVR experience feel more natural. With AI-powered and conversational IVR, customers can ask questions about their service, and as long as the system has automatic speech recognition, then the system will be able to provide answers. IVR AI understands customer intent and will help them find solutions without the need for an agent.

The responses are provided in real-time, and since the AI has copious amounts of data to use, in many cases, questions that may stump an agent will be quickly answered. This type of IVR is designed to sound natural and conversational in order to put the caller at ease. This is all done to provide an automated experience that still provides a high degree of customer satisfaction.


Implement Visual IVR

Organizations are becoming increasingly multi- and omnichannel, which means that they are meeting customers on their platform of choice. Modern callers are using text, email, live chat, and PCs to interact with their favorite brands. Visual IVR, is a type of IVR that allows users to go through the IVR process using computer or smart device screens.

For example, when a customer has a question, he or she may go to a company’s website to seek an answer. If they are still lost, they can use the page’s “Contact Us” section to get help. A visual IVR system, which is incorporated into a page via lines of script, will then send a text to the caller’s smart device with a link. The link can then be used to gather information about the caller and their issue, and since it’s on a personal device, inputting information is much more convenient.

Visual IVR systems have all of the functionality of standard IVR with an even higher level of convenience for callers. Visual IVR even has a higher containment rate since customers can enter their information at their own convenience.


Higher IVR Containment Rates Build a Reputation


Whether you want to improve your customer self-service rates or are just trying to the augment customer journey, customizing your IVR system is a smart solution. IVR is a decades-old technology that still provides businesses with a useful way to manage callers, but optimizing for higher IVR containment rate requires personalization.

Take a look at your existing VoIP phone service, and ensure the technology creates a welcoming customer experience for your agents to give time for those customers that need specialized care. Take the additional step of implementing outbound IVR to optimize the omnichannel experience.

To find out how to configure your IVR system as well as correct any issues, take a look at our guide to common IVR mistakes.