What is IVR Payment?
There is a general consensus that dealing with any automation over the telephone is a real pain.
Press 1 for this, 2 for that, and spend minutes going through a complicated menu that doesn’t quite fit your enquiry. Speech recognition was supposed to transform the IVR customer experience… But we have all found ourselves saying in our most restrained voices “I would like to speak to a human”!
So, what does IVR stand for? Answer, “Interactive Voice Response”. An industry term for technology that allows callers to navigate a phone system before, or without entirely, talking to someone.
Businesses favoured IVR’s for decades as a way of improving the efficiency of their operation. But in many cases, this came at the expense of the customer’s experience. IVR payments have been around for a while and despite the pain of not having a person to help you, they are on the up as more businesses adopt them.
Here we explore what flavours IVR payments come in, and why they are increasingly popular.
Why IVR Payments?
We can all see why companies adopt secure IVR payment lines from the efficiency angle. It’s much cheaper for them to receive a payment without having to employ a human to process it. This saves on the salary but also the management and infrastructure costs associated with an agent.
IVR payment lines are also being favoured by consumers through improved experiences.
Some reasons for this are:
- 24/7: IVR Payment Lines can operate continuously, so customers can pay whenever is convenient for them.
- Confirmation: Customers can receive confirmation of the payment. For example, via SMS text, giving them an instant record of the payment made.
- Confidence: Consumers have a greater confidence in, and experience of, technology today. Payment by IVR is acceptable and reliable.
- Technology: So much has improved over the past decade. From the less robotic speech guiding us through the IVR process, to reliable Speech Recognition, letting consumers speak instead of typing in card or bank information.
Voice Payment Systems & Greater Customer Experience
CX (Customer Experience) has become a keen focus over the past years for most organisations, with the realisation that IVR payments is now being welcomed by the majority of consumers.
Furthermore, businesses are now benefitting from technical improvements. This allows integration between billing, accounting and payment systems. These integrations mean IVR Payments can be recorded and accounted for without human interaction.
Another technology improvement has led to real-time ‘data-dipping’ using web sockets or web services, this allows IVR’s to look up information in real-time. For example, data stored in the company’s customer management software, such as the balance the customer needs to pay.
Compliance is also a benefit for those companies keen on data security (now a legal requirement). Neither their staff nor their physical operation comes into contact with sensitive payment card data. This ensures that compliance with the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is met. Most payment lines today are PCI Compliant IVR solutions.
The Cost of IVR Payment Processing
A final important point to make is that the cost of IVR payment processing solutions has greatly reduced. Whereas before businesses might desire one, they were not affordable. Improvements in technology, and increased competition, have driven down the prices. To this extent many SME’s are adopting secure IVR payments solutions.
IVR Payments can come in varying degrees of complexity:
Basic IVR Payment System
A Basic IVR payment line will typical ask the caller to enter their customer reference number to identify them. Next it will ask for the customer to enter the amount being paid. Then finally for their sensitive card details or bank information if a direct debit is being set up.
This is a low-cost option as it is a very simple and quick to deploy solution. It does this by eliminating the primary delay of integrating the IVR with an existing payment card gateway.
Advanced IVR Payment System
An Advanced IVR payment solution will go a little further. Typically this includes text confirmation messages for the caller.
It also uses web services to collect information. Quite often this is the customer’s balance, from the companies internal customer information system.
This is a little slicker, more customer-friendly but more expensive to run.
Bespoke IVR Payment System
Finally, we have the Bespoke IVR payment service which is typically more complex. It can include:
- Payment breakdown options.
- Customer call routing (based on options that relate to the business’s specific product, service or operation).
It is easy to assume that a bespoke, PCI Complaint IVR payment service would be expensive. This is not always the case! As user interfaces for designing payment IVR’s have got better, the time it takes to build something bespoke has come down significantly. By this notion the overall cost has also been reduced.
There are also a variety of methods of integrating payment IVR’s. Not only with existing payment gateways but phone systems too. New customer facing numbers, or internal redirects can be placed within a business’s existing phone system. Meaning IVR payment lines can be quickly added to whatever is running smoothly at the moment.
The benefits of IVR payment services have been increasing for some time now. In fact, to such an extent that their widespread adoption is now forecast. Something completely unexpected a decade ago, when consumers would avoid IVR’s wherever possible.
Ultimately, it’s about what works for the customer, and organisation. As IVR payment technology continues to develop, they become more of a win-win than ever before.