Article : A Centralized Approach To Managing IVR In International Call Centers
Handling incoming telephone calls from consumers around the globe is a challenge that more and more multinational corporations are wrestling with everyday. To optimize call management, IVR systems on the front end offer important benefits. But when serving geographically dispersed customers, the ability for a single team to setup and manage IVR solutions around the globe can be a formidable challenge. How then do enterprises create and manage IVR solutions that serve consumers located in various countries, without busting the budget?
A globally hosted VoiceXML IVR platform is one option that is proving ideal for managing inbound calls internationally. VoiceXML applications, easily created by most IT staff, can be deployed on VoiceXML gateways around the world with the click of a mouse. The result is a practical, cost effective and reliable IVR solution that helps call centers optimize the quality of their interactions with customers around the world.
A path for rapid application deployment: New voice applications can be a hassle to plan, but the VoiceXML standard has made the process of application creation straightforward. If the next step is setting up onsite system around the world, the process will often deployment grind to a halt. Deploying systems and telecom circuits in multiple countries is a full-time job for experts. A global IVR hosting provider has done the work for you, and should facilitate launch of your application around the globe quick with the click a few buttons. Your IVR hosting provider should offer phone numbers and the application support that you need in order to create an end-to-end solution quickly.
Dependability and Call Quality: Consumers expect greater reliability from phone systems than from websites. So IVR solutions cannot go down. Onsite system require redundancy and careful management. Hosting providers, especially those with full control over all aspects of the solution, should be able to guarantee 24x7x365 uptime. And as important as uptime is call quality. Many telecom providers are offering low cost, but low quality, VoIP circuits which often diminish call quality. IVR produces high ROI when done well, but is a customer service disaster when done poorly. A high-quality hosted IVR solution can ensure that you get a positive return on your efforts.
Scalability: In contrast with the difficult of scaling multiple systems in multiple countries, a global hosted approach enables expansion on demand in the country of choice. Hosting should offer practically unlimited scalability for enterprises with predictable call volumes.
But why should so much attention be focused on creating IVR solutions? The traditional rationale has always centered on ROI – it’s cheaper to automate calls than to use live representatives. If done well, IVR applications can be perceived positively, as even more convenient than waiting for a live agent. That is “the carrot” for both consumers and the enterprise. And “the stick”, evoked by folks such as Paul English and his readers, is that IVR applications that do not work well are quickly noticed and subverted by discerning consumers.
The IVR Is The Maker Of First Impressions For A Call Center
Whether you locate your call center in the UK, the Caribbean, Manila or in the middle of America, the interactive voice response (IVR) component will always play a critical role in customer service. From an operations standpoint, the IVR piece is key to load balancing a call center, paring down call volume and shortening call throughput times. From a customer perspective, the IVR element is often the introductory “voice” of the company, setting the tone for how the company views customer interaction and often shaping the customer’s first impressions about the enterprise. An IVR application can have a significant impact on customer relations, with the ability to either delight and boost confidence in the company or sadly, to frustrate and alienate customers. Look at IVR as somewhat analogous to your company’s website: like a website, the IVR is a key point of initial customer interaction.
IVR Systems For International Enterprises
In a world where selling to internationally distributed markets is increasingly the norm, companies are striving to develop contact centers that can serve customers throughout the globe. When setting up such globally attentive call centers, companies will often find that the interactive voice response (IVR) component presents some formidable hurdles including:
Upfront Cost:The ability to set up an international IVR system often requires significant upfront capital costs. To create fully redundant systems, the costs double.
Systems Management:Geographically dispersed IVR systems must be set-up and managed individually with local input. Systems inevitable are get out of sync, and over time become a confusing mix of disparate systems that make are difficult to control, manage and standardize.
Foreign Telecom Management: Managing telecom vendors can be difficult in your home country. Managing telecom vendors in various foreign countries is exponentially more difficult. Ordering circuits, numbers, reviewing bills, communicating with telecom personnel, all of these tasks are a challenge that are best outsourced.
Manage Your Globally Dispersed IVR Systems From A Single View
Managing disparate IVR systems is hard and expensive. Mistakes by system or telecom vendors can compromise the quality of the call, exposing callers to latency problems and application failures, and ultimately diminishing the customer’s experience. Given the crucial role that IVR systems play in orchestrating customer interactions, call centers simply cannot afford to let communication at the IVR level go unmanaged.
Just as IT staff use systems management tools to manage their servers and routers from a single point, it certainly makes sense that call center managers should be able to oversee and control all their IVR systems and applications from a single centralized point.
What To Look For In A Globally Distributed IVR System
So what are some of the features that you need to consider when developing an IVR system on a globally hosted platform? Obviously, the first step is to find a vendor that offers hosting services in the countries that matter to you. And then, consider the following criteria:
Support for VoiceXML: An IVR system based on a VoiceXML platform hosted at various points of presence around the world lends itself to being managed from a single point in a centralized manner. Based on the Worldwide Webs Consortium's (W3C's) Extensible Markup Language (XML), VoiceXML is the standard for voice response systems and is being used by thousands of developers in enterprises all over the globe. Find a hosting provider that supports the VoiceXML 2.1 IVR standard. This will speed application development and enable easy application modification down the road.
Support for 24x7x365 uptime, state of the art security and disaster recovery: Continuous uptime should be a given with any hosting provider. Your hosting provider should also employ standard security procedures, especially if your IVR handles financial or health-related information. For full disaster recovery, look for a reliable, redundant, fault tolerant system and network infrastructure that employs both redundant systems and redundant circuit paths.
Support for excellent call quality:Using an IVR hosting provider eliminates the hassle of dealing with telcos around the globe. But make sure that your provider takes call quality seriously, otherwise you are being penny wise and pound foolish. VoIP still produces problems for IVR applications, because of occasionally dropped DTMF tones that make the application fail, and higher latency that is inherent in VoIP calls. Look for a vendor that uses top quality telecom circuits and IVR systems that offer low latency and excellent call quality.
Web-based administration: A global IVR hosting provider that also offer web-based administration provides you with an ideal combination of application control and outsourced services. Look for a globally uniform application management interface. And, for technical buyers, look for a standard API to enable full call control capability in each country.
Top-quality data connectivity: Almost all IVR applications require a real-time connection to a database. Look for a hosting provider that can offer high speed, optimized data connectivity to all Tier 1 data networks
Today's Tip of the Day - Network Based Contact Center?
Published: Monday, February 20, 2006
Upcoming EventsSubmit Event