Adopting a hosted model enables a company to drastically lower the cost of ownership of telecoms infrastructure, while ensuring high availability and convenience. In a hosted environment, all the telephony ‘hardware’ such desk phones, cables and switchboards are replaced by software and operated virtually by a third party. A business simply needs to sign up for the service with a trusted cloud telephony partner. Typically, there is a monthly service fee that can be allocated to OPEX. As opposed to spending on hardware and software to own and operate systems, ensuring uptime and depreciation, replacement and having skilled employees on board, all that a company needs is a router and internet connection (which may be provided by the service provider).
Apart from a reduction in operating costs, the main benefits that companies achieve are in improving the quality of customer engagement. By layering technology onto the telephony platform companies can improve quality of service significantly.
One such technology is Hosted Interactive Voice Response (HIVR).
The solution consists of comprises of a database and telephony platform for customer interaction hosted in the cloud, allowing businesses to access the application through the web. It is simply an Interactive Voice Response system, virtualised and hosted in the cloud.
HIVR technology enhances customer service by verifying and diverting calls to the correct person, while avoiding the need for extensive switchboard staff on constant standby.
It allows customers to choose the support they need, such as self-service or speaking to an agent, through either touch-tone or voice inputs. For example, a consumer electronics call centre’s HIVR might offer options for the type of equipment (fridge, washing machine, etc), type of service required (delivery, repair etc), directing customers efficiently to the right support expert and helping them quickly self-solve basic issues like service centre locations, opening hours, and more. A movie theatre’s IVR can allow customers to preselect the movie, show, and number of seats, before directing them to a payment agent.
As the service is fully hosted, there is little need for specialist onsite equipment: employees can access the system through an app on the handset or PC from any workplace. This enables automated services where appropriate and makes it possible to better integrate offices in different locations, remote workers or employees on the road.
The system can verify the caller’s identity before moving the query to a live operator – enhancing security and eliminating the need to answer calls made in error. Calls can be documented and archived through an online log or recordings, allowing quality control and training, and often fulfilling regulatory mandates depending upon the industry.
Another valuable advantage is the ability to integrate SMS communications into the same system, the consumer even more choice in how he or she engages with the company, improving customer satisfaction and employee productivity with almost no additional equipment or infrastructure required.
By taking the IVR to the cloud enterprises can avoid significant upfront capital expenses and routine ‘upgrade’ costs, leading to a low total cost of ownership. Deploying and operating a HIVR system is simple, avoiding the need to invest in specialist IT management systems altogether and integrating easily with existing IT systems and processes. Call hosting and routing is done automatically over the internet. The management portal for the HIVR system allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of call traffic, with easy-to-use self-care and self-administration tools that allow the system to be customised to an organisation’s individual requirements.
While the cost and efficiency benefits are considerable, the real advantage to the cloud-based IVR system is the functionality and flexibility of the solution. HIVR is easy to use and deploy, increases the efficiency of customer-facing teams and reduces reliance on large technical teams.
HIVR offers customers the round-the-clock service they demand, unifies dispersed offices and employees, offers value-added services and generates the analytics needed for better management. A HIVR should be a part of the arsenal of any enterprise seeking to offer world-class customer engagement.