How to choose the right interactive voice response system

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems can help a utility’s operations in multiple ways. These software tools automatically answer incoming calls for clients, giving them a menu of options to choose from and processes their responses via speech recognition technology. IVR applications can route calls to live agents when necessary and deal with simpler queries via pre-recorded messages.

How does IVR help utilities?

From boosting the customer experience to lessening the workload facing contact center agents during crises or disruptions, IVR technology has the potential to transform the way the organization and its audience communicate. The shorter wait times associated with IVR use may boost customer satisfaction while creating a smoother operational experience for utility personnel.

What are the important features of IVR systems for utilities?

When investing in IVR software, you should make sure the solution you choose includes the functionality that will help your staff and customers most. The following are some of the modules that make the DataVoice IVR system a top choice for utilities:

Outage reporting and notifications

  • Automated outage reporting:  When a member calls to report an outage, our IVR system identifies them, cross-checks your internal database and informs them of outages that may impact their area. The solution can also offer projected restoration times. This module eases the burden on your support staff and leaves members satisfied.
  • Power restoration notifications: The IVR system can automatically call, email or text affected members when power is restored after an outage.
  • Employee notifications:  The IVR isn’t just for calling customers. By informing staff members of an all-hands situation, you can automatically recall your employees when disruptions occur. Employees can reply to these auto notifications to inform supervisors if they’re unable to report in.
  • Planned outage notifications: The DataVoice IVR solution is capable of searching databases to determine which customers will be affected by a planned outage, then pushes notifications to that group of members.

Automated Customer Service Solutions

  • Caller ID: By using IVR, you can match customers who call in with their account information. This removes a step in getting those members to a problem resolution by not asking them to consult old bills or other documents to identify themselves.
  • Account inquiry: Members can access real-time information about their billing balance and other statistics related to their accounts.
  • Extension requests: When a customer calls in to request an extension, all the data on that account is immediately available, allowing agents to make quick and consistent decisions.
  • Delinquent account calling: The IVR system can make automatic reminder calls on accounts that have payments past due. The calls are polite in tone rather than threatening, to preserve the positive customer experience and not alienate members.
  • Check, credit and debit card payments: The DataVoice IVR application is capable of accepting customer payments in multiple formats, allowing members to make their online payments in the manner of their choosing.
  • Priority account call handling: This capability is connected to the automatic caller ID functionality and routes calls from high-priority accounts directly to call center personnel or other employees who are ready to provide live responses.
  • Critical load management: When contract members are reaching usage thresholds that could make them eligible for extra charges, the IVR solution can automatically contact those customers. This could enable the users to circumvent rate increases, or at least make them aware of the changes, to avoid surprisingly high bills and the resulting customer experience fallout.
  • Service order inquiries: When a service order is in progress, the IVR can give automated updates on the real-time state of that operation. This prevents employees from having to take the time to look the data up.
  • Automated call out: Rather than just responding intelligently to incoming calls, the automated voice system can make calls and give information when an event such as a planned outage is imminent.

Why should your utility choose DataVoice IVR?

As part of a fully featured and integrated suite of applications built for the utility industry, DataVoice IVR has the ability to improve experiences for members and employees alike. IVR is one component of a more intelligent approach to utility management, with software tools that integrate data from today’s more advanced networks to enable precise, efficient operations.

It’s difficult to keep utility members happy today. Aging infrastructure in many parts of the country means failures and planned maintenance are both frequent causes of service interruptions. Meanwhile, customers’ standards for service have never been higher in an age of responsive, data-fueled companies born on the internet.

Utilities that don’t make enough use of automated technology – or data in general – risk falling behind and delivering poor experiences to their clients. An IVR solution can be a central part of quick and responsive customer care, delivering accurate answers to questions and requests without taking call center employee time away from more complex, high-touch tasks.