With the monumental task of serving citizens on a daily basis, governmental bodies have a job that isn’t easy under the best circumstances. But many small governments face additional hurdles like budget cuts or understaffing. How can you help alleviate some of this strain while continuing to meet the needs and demands of the public?
One area of concern for many small governments is the manpower it takes to handle calls and process payments for things like utilities and recreational services. IVR phone systems can prove very helpful in this area, allowing citizens to make payments on their own schedules and freeing up staff from being tied to the phones.
What is IVR?
Short for interactive voice response, IVR allows callers to interact with an automated computer system. The system collects information from callers, either by voice recognition or by number pad. This information is used to route callers to the right menu or live employee.
IVR systems range from stock greetings/commands to highly sophisticated, customizable menu options with more dynamic capabilities.
Callers can use IVR to pay bills, seek answers to questions, or be directed to the right department for further live discussion. By the time a caller reaches a live employee, the IVR system will have collected pertinent information so the issue at hand can be immediately addressed without the need for further explanation.
Many calls with simple requests — such as checking on account status or paying a bill — can be completely handled by an automated IVR system. Implementing this type of system can therefore result in better time management among government employees, helping to make the most out of limited resources.
What can IVR do?
At its core, IVR provides people with a method of self-service. Callers can access this system outside of normal operational hours in order to access information and make payments. No employee assistance is necessary for many basic needs.
For people with busy schedules, using an IVR service to make payments can provide valuable efficiencies and time savings. This is because of features like:
- Speech-enabled interaction: Callers use their voice to navigate the system and gain access to information, various functionalities, or be redirected to a live employee. Some IVR systems also offer multilingual options.
- Authentication: Callers can authenticate their identity by speaking or entering their account number or other personal information. The caller ID can also be verified against the phone number on record.
- Predictive navigation: Personalized menu options based on previous caller records can be offered. This feature anticipates caller needs without them needing to ask.
- Call logs: If a caller wishes to speak to a live person, the system will deliver all the collected information so the employee can view it without asking the caller to repeat themselves.
IVR systems come with a variety of features to choose from. The goal is to make it easier for callers to get the right information or pay bills over the phone, while freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.
Benefits of IVR
Among the many perks of using an IVR phone system, the two biggest benefits are saving time and money. Many governmental bodies face budget cuts — or at least limited budgets that must be stretched — so time and money are hot commodities.
IVR systems act as somewhat of a virtual assistant, answering and routing calls in place of live employees. This means you can accomplish the same workload with fewer employees on hand. No more employees being bogged down by high call volumes. With IVR, the system can handle the majority of calls, with only the more complex calls routed through to live employees.
The time saved by government employees empowers them to better serve citizens off the phones, leaving it to the IVR system to handle basic information requests and payments for utilities, taxes, recreation, etc. Essentially, IVR allows government employees to serve their constituents more effectively.