IVR Managed Services keeps your IVR infrastructure up and running, safe and secure, day in and day out… so you don’t have to. But Managed Services in general—and as it applies specifically to IVR—isn’t always well-understood. There are questions about what’s involved with IVR services in the first place. Questions about the economics of Managed Services vs. managing it yourself. And often, there are concerns about a loss of control over how your IVR interacts with your customers.
I thought I’d take a minute to outline what’s involved with running a professional IVR—and how using Managed Services can help you run it best.
The driving factors for turning to Managed Services are always Capacity and Capability. It’s always about answering one question:
Do I have enough of the right equipment, people and resources to handle IVR in house?
IVR involves an investment in a production-quality infrastructure—that means redundant servers, routers, switches, storage devices and more. There is of course the investment in the IVR system that runs on that equipment. And there’s the investment in expert technologists and engineers (at let’s say a fully burdened salary of $150K per year per employee) to keep it all secure and operational all the time. (Remember, as with any critical part of your business infrastructure, someone has to be on call around the clock, every day of the week, in case something goes wrong.)
To ensure that your IVR is never down requires a significant investment in both hardware and talent. A highly reliable system is a highly redundant one. Every critical component of the IVR that I described above has to have designed-in redundancy. That doesn’t mean just installing a Noah’s Ark data center: two of everything in the same building. Those redundant systems have to be in different geographic locations to ensure that a local catastrophe (think earthquake or flood) doesn’t bring down your primary and backup systems in one fell swoop. And, of course, when you have more than one location, you have to have more than one system administration team to keep everything in perfect working order.
That fully redundant and reliable system is also at the heart of security. With an IVR that can be as simple as making sure data is not lost, to very complex tasks including protecting that data from hacks, exploits and denial of service attacks. The latter is certainly the case when you’re allowing payment information to occur through the IVR, or if the IVR is part of your omnichannel. Establishing and maintaining that level of security—which includes being continually current with shifting and expanding PCI DSS requirements—becomes a significant responsibility and requires a significant level of expertise. Just as important is establishing your data backup and disaster recovery strategies—and assigning people to manage those as well.
Keeping everything up and running over time is a discipline unto itself. System administrators are responsible for handling system updates, managing expansion, and more. If something breaks, if a system goes down, these are the people that come in and right the ship. It’s not as easy as making a phone call to get things going. If you don’t have a dedicated team attached to your IVR (which is very likely the case), they’re handling problems across your entire IT or telephony infrastructure. Your problem will have to wait in line. A Managed Services team is always a dedicated team, and always responds to your issues right away.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many of the largest companies in the world, with their own in house IT call center infrastructure, turn to us to take on the IVR—allowing them to concentrate their existing resources on keeping the rest of their systems in operation.
At the beginning of this post I talked about the concern over loss of control, and that’s the last point I want to make.
It’s true. You do lose control, or—better said—you lose the need to control all of the things we’ve talked about here: the infrastructure, the expertise, the architecture and more. But you don’t lose control over the things you must control to make IVR a satisfying part of your customer’s experience. That includes changing menu trees, inserting offers and promotions, adding and removing employees, and—this may be the most important—performing detailed call analysis and reporting. All of that is still at your fingertips, all of it is still completely configurable by you, and all of it is still completely in your control.
I’ll end with this: I try to be a DIY’er whenever I can. I’m the first to take on home-based projects like painting, drywall patches and more. I learned how to change my brakes from a YouTube video. If I can do it, I will. But… I know when the job is too big, too important, or just too complicated to trust myself to get it right. IVR is like that. A basic system—built to simply send a call somewhere and nothing else—is something I might be able to take on: a vendor’s “how to” video might be enough. But if I’m trying to drive best customer service as a business differentiator—including things like natural speech recognition, self-service, and integration—I’d step back.
I’d leave that to the pros.
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