Popular Retail Uses of IVR Technology

Over the years Acclaim Telecom has worked with many clients on hundreds of IVR applications.   Some applications are simple and unique in usage, while others have wide ranging and strategic impact on a company’s operation.

As IVR capabilities continue to migrate to cloud computing models, even more companies are taking advantage of these applications itemized below.  We thought you might be interested in learning about a few of the more commonly deployed retail industry IVR applications.

Store locators – an early usage which allows retail vendors with multiple locations to automate routine information retrieval for their customers.   Information made available typically included store locations (identified by proximity to zip codes), hours of operation, directions, and the ability to search for department or employee extensions.

Order status – by using an IVR order status application retail vendors can service their clients 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  Typical inbound call information available include product shipment data for air, ground or mail shipments, back order status, along with outbound notices that a product has shipped or been delivered.  One innovative customer used their IVR system to send advance sales notice information with a special purchase code.  This purchase code could be used 12 hours in advance of the general public announcement.  Of course they provided the option to hear about pre-announcement sales information only after being updated on the status of their current order.

Bill reminders – another early and highly productive IVR solution.  With very little additional cost and with a potential huge reduction in live agent overhead, calls can be placed to customers reminding them before and after bills are due, along with current balances and payment history.

Employee notification and work scheduling – companies with large numbers of retail stores often have to make last minute staffing changes.  This is especially true in times of high shopping demand such as Black Friday, holiday shopping seasons, and unique store or product promotion events.  IVR systems can place outbound calls to store employees which in turn allow them to respond with availability, enable automated work scheduling, provide work audit tracking, and provide reminder notices of work schedules for employees who work irregular hours.

Customer service polls – companies wishing to capture real time shopper experience can use outbound IVR calls to capture important knowledge.  Acclaim Telecom recommends limiting the quest for information to the top 2 – 3 most important knowledge areas and allow the customer to finish the survey within 60 seconds.  And most importantly, this is not the time to market new offers to a customer.

Internal Inventory and Reporting – while clearly web enabled automation has encroached in this area, there are still times when using a mobile phone is useful to check the status of inventory, orders and sales information.  By integrating iVR capabilities into supply chain management systems, purchasing agents can place or check order status when mobile internet access is not readily available.

Call Center Automation – obviously this is the big one. By correctly analyzing repetitive customer inquiries, automating non-strategic information inquiries or simple information tasks, significant call center cost reductions can be achieved.  This in turns allows call center agents to address more complex or sophisticated customer inquiries requiring human decision making capabilities.

Custom Retail IVR Applications – if you have a unique or custom retail IVR application need, contact Acclaim Telecom.  We would be happy to see how our industry experience can help your organization achieve your desired results while improving customer responsiveness.

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