Hosted Telephony

How Natural Language Processing Can Help Your Interactive Voice Response System Meet Best Practice

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are of great use to companies who have customers using phones to contact them. With a good IVR system in place, you will have a tool that makes contact quick and efficient for customers and cost-effective for businesses. 

IVR systems can answer customer questions over the phone without them needing to wait on hold for a live agent. IVR systems are able to recognise the customer’s spoken requests by using an AI-driven speech recognition software, helping the call to proceed swiftly and easily for the customer. Great benefits can also be gained for businesses. Implementing a good IVR system can make calls cost 100 times less than those involving a live agent, as it can handle many calls at once and the only associated costs are in the setup and maintenance, as no wage is needed to be paid for the IVR. 

While there are many benefits to IVR systems, before you decide to implement an IVR system in your contact centre, you must bear in mind the best practice. We take a look at some of the ways you can get the best out of your IVR system by using Natural Language Processing (NLP). 

Intuitive IVR

First and foremost, the IVR system should provide a fast, efficient and simple way for your customers to receive the answers that they are looking for. As such, opting for an intuitive IVR system, which uses Natural Language Processing to operate at an advanced level is often your best choice. Natural Language IVR will be intelligent enough to understand full sentences rather than only identifying select phrases. This can reduce any confusion and make call routing easier. The process will also be quicker with a natural language IVR, as a customer will simply need to ask for what they want, rather than having to listen through a list of options to select from with the keypad. As natural language helps to make the IVR system more intelligent, it will be able to deal with more complex customer issues. 


With Conduent reporting that, in recent years, the use of digital apps has seen a 65 percent increase, it is now more important than ever to ensure that all platforms you have available for your customers are omnichannel. Ensure that your IVR system is integrated into all of your relevant support channels, including chat, SMS and email, so that your customers can get in touch however they choose. Using a natural language IVR will allow for the system to be integrated with other contact centre options, including platforms used by live agents. This allows for all of your systems and contact options to be seamlessly connected.


Increasingly, customers are looking for a more personal connection with the companies and brands that they use. Your IVR system provides the perfect opportunity to better connect with each customer on a more personal level. Connecting your NLP IVR system to your CRM system will allow some of your customer’s data to be accessible to the IVR during calls so that each conversation can be personalised. For example, if the caller is known by name, the NLP IVR can personalise the greeting and say their name. If the customer data shows that English isn’t their first language, then the IVR system will be able to respond in a different language if required. The NLP IVR system may also be able to see where the caller is located so that a local contact number can be provided if requested.

The personalisation of your IVR system also allows for conversational context. If an IVR recognises a number, and an address and name is associated already, they won’t have to ask for that information if a customer tries to make an order. You can even have the IVR answer the call and ask if the customer wants the same thing they wanted last time, for example, if they are trying to order food.

Express Your Brand Identity

IVR systems can be adapted to create a tone of voice and message that best reflects your brand. A Natural Language IVR system provides you with the ability to create an identity, which can make the experience feel more human. When crafting a personality for your NLP IVR, remember that this is how your brand is being represented, and may be the first introduction to the brand for some customers. Therefore, it is important to keep it polite, professional, and human-sounding.

IVR systems may also be able to be regularly updated, as you would a social media platform or advertisement. This allows you to give your customers the most up to date information, provide seasonally appropriate statements and introduce them to any new deals.


Allow Calls to Be Directed to a Real Person When Necessary

Some IVR systems will take information on a customer when they call, only for them to be directed through to an agent and have to repeat the same information again. A report from Accenture reveals that 90 percent of customers feel frustrated when they are required to repeat information to a live agent. IVR systems should not be seen as a holding platform while waiting for an agent to become available, but should be seen as an equal to a live agent. A Natural Language IVR will be advanced enough to deal with many customer queries, so it shouldn’t just be used to route calls. The NLP IVR should be able to pick up when a customer specifically requests for a live agent, operator or representative rather than automatically putting them through to a human agent at the earliest convenience.


Update the IVR

When considering the best practice for your IVR system, a key factor should be the updates your IVR receives. It would be bad practice to simply set your IVR live and let it run without checking in on it. There may be areas of your IVR that your customers are struggling with, or that don’t work as you intended. Using the analytics gathered from your calls, you will be able to identify any problem areas and update them accordingly.


Privacy and Security

Companies should be confident that all of their systems are compliant with the relevant regulations, such as GDPR and PCI DSS. Customers are also likely to be concerned with personal data security, so it is essential that your IVR system is secure.

Here at Hostcomm, we offer Natural Language IVR systems that are certified to the highest level of PCI DSS compliance, so you can be rest assured that any data accessed and entered during a phone call is safe and secure. This includes any payments that may be made over the phone through an IVR system.

If you would like to find out more about how Hostcomm’s Natural Language IVR system can be used to enhance your contact centre to the best it can be, then get in touch with our expert team today. 

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