New and Effective Ways to Use an Outbound IVR

Today, IVR systems are used for much more than routing a caller’s incoming inquiry. Learn how innovative companies are using outbound IVR systems in new and effective ways.

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New and Effective Ways to Use an Outbound IVR

Today, interactive voice response (IVR) systems are used for much more than routing a caller’s incoming inquiry. Outbound IVR systems are being utilized in entirely new ways: to send bill notifications, appointment reminders, and retail order updates, or to deliver promotions, payments, polls, and brand awareness— all without involving a live agent.

Outbound IVR for Lead Qualification

Companies that make a large number of outbound phone calls typically have outbound contact centers that qualify inbound leads or prospect for new customers. For these companies, the number of calls agents can process is tied to the amount of revenue the company can generate. When call volume is consistently high, any downtime has a direct impact on revenue. Agent efficiency is paramount. An outbound IVR system adds automation to the lead conversion process, by providing a simplified way to pre-qualify interest.

For example, let’s say your banking business is running a new credit card promotion. Using the Twilio REST API, your IVR will make an outgoing call to a customer who completed an online form. The IVR plays a message such as, “If you’d like to apply for a new credit card, please listen to the following options.”

At that point, the process looks just like a webhook for an inbound call. The IVR then waits to receive a DTMF or speech response from the person called, which triggers an API. After responding to a few simple questions, interested and qualified prospects can be quickly routed to a live sales agent to seal the deal.

Outbound IVR for Appointment Reminders

Automated reminders for restaurant reservations, scheduled car repairs, or pending medical appointments are increasingly becoming the norm. The convenience factor alone makes it a no-brainer for customers to share their phone number. And when it comes to reducing no-shows, IVRs have created enormous savings for businesses, especially when you consider that missed appointments can cost a single doctor upwards of $150,000 a year. That’s why many medical practitioners are adopting outbound IVR systems to prevent missed appointments from happening altogether.

For Arkansas Children's Hospital, who has 400,000 outpatient appointments a year, no-shows cost the hospital a tremendous amount of time and money and can negatively affect a child’s care and recovery. The hospital used to send out hundreds of thousands of appointment confirmation calls in their legacy phone system, which would chronically break down under the call load. The search for a new system led the hospital’s systems development group to Twilio.

Today, when a patient books an appointment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, they can opt-in to SMS or voice reminders. The hospital’s IVR system will contact patients a day beforehand, reminding them of the day, time, and location, and asking them if they’ll be there. If the response is “no,” the script will remind the patient to reschedule, and give them the number to call to make a new appointment.

This new system saved the hospital $250,000 and freed it from dealing with a fickle, costly, on-premise contact center. Most importantly, its new Twilio-powered appointment reminder service helped the hospital directly meet the needs of patients.

Outbound IVR for Identity Verification

According to Forrester, communicating with a live agent can cost as much as six to twelve dollars per interaction, while an automated interaction on an IVR can cost as little as 25 cents. By enabling your IVR to make intelligent decisions, customers can receive immediate, considered responses.

Let’s look at an example. If you work for a bank, how can you know for sure that an online customer is really who they say they are? The rise and severity of account takeover fraud and data breaches prove there is a real need for user authentication that goes beyond entering a birth date or the last four digits of a social security number. Before handing over sensitive financial data, you need to verify the customer’s identity using two-factor authentication.

A decision-based outbound IVR allows you to have an interactive call with your customers to verify their identity. Let’s say the customer is trying to access his account information on the bank website and the bank needs to verify the customer’s identity. The customer would receive a phone call from the bank’s IVR system and then speak his account details and a few identifying details out loud. The IVR could use Twilio Lookup to determine that the customer is using a mobile phone and he would then receive a time-bound code via SMS. After inputting the code on the bank website, the customer can now access his account.

Decreasing the time it takes customers to verify their identity and reducing the time they have to spend talking to agents are key ways companies can lower their costs and increase their productivity.

How to Build an Outbound IVR With Twilio

Now that you know some of the ways to use an outbound IVR, you may be wondering how to set one up. Traditionally, a full IVR system consists of telephony equipment, software applications, a referential database, and any supporting infrastructure. But you don’t have to settle for a rigid, complicated IVR that falls short of customer expectations. Newer approaches abstract away this complexity and make building an IVR system quite easy.

If you want to deploy a customized IVR system that can adapt to your ever-evolving business requirements, consider integrating a cloud-based IVR solution like Twilio. Twilio offers a number of products and services that make building an IVR system incredibly simple. Twilio Programmable Voice has speech recognition and DTMF tone support built in, as well as phone numbers and voice connectivity in over 100 countries, and you can always port existing numbers to Twilio with ease. Twilio’s visual editor, Studio, provides a straightforward way to build a custom IVR system with no specialized hardware required.

Learn More

Read the free e-book, 6 Ways to Reinvent the Customer Experience with IVR, to see how to build an outbound IVR in minutes with Twilio’s visual builder, Studio.

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