Speed is the currency of business; the faster you’re able to move, the greater your chances of success.
That’s why deploying a new Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system in a matter of hours—as opposed to months—can be a game changer.
If that sounds good to you, then it’s time to explore a hosted IVR.
Unlike traditional IVRs that rely on hardware-based Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, hosted IVRs operate entirely in the cloud—much like hosted phone systems. This makes hosted IVRs lightning-quick to set up by eliminating the need for extensive hardware installation and maintenance.
By getting your hosted IVR set up in a hurry, you’ll gain immediate access to efficient call routing, enhanced customer experiences, cost savings, easy scalability, and seamless integration with other business systems.
How Quick Is Hosted IVR Setup?
A hosted IVR operates in the cloud via a Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform.
It gives callers a preconfigured menu that lets them use their keypad or voice to choose from several menu options. The IVR system then processes caller inputs and routes them to the right person (or automated information source) to answer their questions.
To ensure intelligent call routing, many hosted IVRs include features that automate basic tasks and integrate advanced AI systems.
Also, the exact timeline for setting up a hosted IVR varies between providers, but most providers guarantee a setup time ranging from a few hours to a few days.
The exact deployment time for your new IVR will also depend on which type you choose. There are two main types:
- Standalone IVRs are systems that provide standard IVR capabilities. They’re perfect for businesses with specific communication needs that require specialized automated voice response software.
- Integrated IVRs are smaller parts of a larger, comprehensive system, such as a CCaaS or a UCaaS platform. They incorporate seamlessly with other system tools to enable efficient and synchronized communication.
Since standalone IVRs are focused on a single task, they are typically faster to install. They can often be set up and configured to meet your needs in a matter of hours.
Meanwhile, the deployment time for integrated IVRs depends on the complexity of the system. They tend to take longer than standalone IVRs, with timelines ranging from days to weeks.
Configuring a Hosted IVR
While your IVR provider is responsible for getting your hosted IVR system up and running, you or someone on your team will need to configure the menu.
That said, cloud-based solutions typically offer visual IVR builders that make creating prompts and changing menus fairly simple. All you really have to do is choose the elements you want to include and then point, click, drag, and drop your way to a complete system.
Of course, the routine setup and modification of traditional IVRs is much more difficult. That process relies heavily on the vendors, which can require many manual interventions and lead to long waiting periods before changes can take effect.
If your business is growing quickly or has evolving needs, traditional IVRs may not be responsive enough to make adequate changes on the fly. It’s a much less flexible process and therefore can’t hold a candle to the agility you can have with cloud-based solutions.
7 Clear Advantages with Hosted IVR
1. Better Visibility Into Call Data
Hosted IVRs make it easy to collect and analyze call data, including:
- Call duration, abandonment rates, and menu navigation
- Customer feedback from post-call surveys
- Caller demographics from integrated systems
- Error analysis
- Seasonal and trend analysis
- Predictive analytics
Harnessing data can help you enhance your IVR system’s efficiency and better understand customer behavior. This prepares you for adapting your services and communication strategies to meet the ever-changing expectations of your customers.
Acquiring the same level of insight is harder with traditional IVRs. Their hardware-based systems often lack sophisticated analytics and reporting capabilities, so extracting, analyzing, and interpreting data can be a lot trickier compared to software-based solutions.
Furthermore, extracting data from hardware-based IVRs can involve manual processes that require specialized technical expertise. All that manual effort can take more uptime, cause delays, and increase costs—especially if you need to hire or contract someone to do it.
2. Unlimited Scalability
Since a hosted IVR uses cloud-based software, it is therefore infinitely scalable. All it takes to adjust your system to meet increased call volume is a simple call to your provider.
For companies that need to accommodate rapid growth and/or experience seasonal changes in call volumes, this scalability is critical.
Meanwhile, traditional IVRs are more challenging to scale because they’re based on hardware that needs upgrading to handle more calls.
Of course, upgrading hardware can increase deployment time for the additional call capacity—and it typically involves higher costs than simply changing your hosted IVR plan. Likewise, if call volumes decrease, the process of dialing back your capacity with a hardware-based IVR is also more complex.
3. Lower Costs
Hosted IVRs tend to be less expensive than their traditional counterparts. Here are some ways they can save you money:
- No hardware costs: Since hosted IVRs are cloud-based, they don’t require any upfront investment in physical hardware or on-site maintenance. This reduces your initial expenditures and ongoing maintenance costs compared to traditional IVRs.
- Rapid deployment: The ability to deploy a hosted IVR much faster than a hardware IVR can minimize your downtime and help you reach peak operational efficiency much faster. This can save both time and money.
- Pay-as-you-go: Many hosted IVR providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing models, which allow you to pay for nothing more than the resources and services you use. This helps avoid the fixed costs associated with traditional on-site IVR systems.
- Reduced IT infrastructure and staff costs: Since hosted IVRs operate in the cloud, you may be able to cut back on the IT infrastructure required for a hardware IVR. With hosted IVRs, the hosting provider is usually responsible for maintenance, updating, and troubleshooting. This means you can realize savings from a reduced demand for IT personnel compared to a traditional IVR system. Of course, your hosted IVR can also help curb your customer service costs as well.
4. Seamless Integrations
The ability of your IVR to integrate with other business systems can’t be understated.
Many hosted IVRs can connect with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, databases, and other communication tools—all of which can significantly improve the customer experience by giving your agents vital information to use during calls.
It’s also common for hosted IVRs to offer excellent Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These make it easy for your IVR to integrate with third-party applications and services—enabling you to build a more customized system overall.
Keep in mind that traditional IVRs aren’t so easy to connect to modern software solutions. This limits their ability to provide the same cohesive and personalized customer experience you can expect from a hosted solution.
Integrating hardware systems with new software often involves complex processes, custom coding, and dedicated IT resources. That complexity alone can slow you down and increase your costs.
5. Advanced Security
Most hosted IVRs come with the latest and greatest security features, such as data encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
These features will ensure that sensitive data is highly secure and that your organization complies with important information security laws and industry regulations.
Traditional IVRs may not have these advanced security features, meaning they could leave you exposed to many potential vulnerabilities and data breaches while also putting you at risk of legal troubles for non-compliance with privacy laws.
6. Better Customer Engagement
When it comes to increasing the bottom line of your business, customer experience plays a significant role.
Hosted IVRs let you create dynamic and engaging voice menus that can improve your overall customer experience. For instance, features like personalized greetings and context-aware prompts can make interactions more engaging for callers—and that can lead to increased customer satisfaction.
Traditional IVRs come with very few customization options. As such, they tend to struggle to offer the same level of personalization as their hosted counterparts.
7. Remote Accessibility
The ability to work from anywhere is becoming more important than ever, which means cloud-based IVR systems are preferable because you can manage and monitor them remotely. For example, you can make real-time adjustments, track performance, and address any number of issues from wherever you want as long as you have an internet connection.
This is a big deal when customer communication strategy calls for a responsive and agile solution.
In contrast, traditional IVRs are tied to physical infrastructure and hardware, so they must be managed and monitored on-site. This makes it very challenging to use them in a remote work environment.