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How Much Does a Banking Interactive Voice Response System Cost?

Features and Uses of a Banking IVR

An interactive voice response (IVR) system lets your financial institution manage high call volumes with lower overhead costs and greater efficiency, without sacrificing customer service.

The early days of voice recognition technology were unreliable at best, due to their inability to recognize normal speech patterns. Today these systems not only "understand" your callers' normal speech patterns, they even filter out background noise, including the sounds of other people talking.

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IVR systems let your call-in customers automate certain transactions, such as checking their account balances and transferring funds, while also allowing them to have their call transferred directly to a specific person or department.

What Features Does a Banking IVR System Include?

Banks and other financial institutions employ IVR systems as a means of streamlining operations. In the age of downsizing, this is a vital technology. It frees your agents to focus on tasks that require their expertise or must be handled by a live person, as well as ensuring that your customers don't spend 20 minutes on hold.

Common interactive voice response system features include:

  • Automatic number identification and dialed number identification
  • Text to speech
  • Speech recognition
  • Multi-line support
  • Call screening and switching options
  • Database integration
  • Detailed call logs
  • Direct transfer to departments or personnel

Though most people are familiar with the inbound IVR platforms, the technology also handles outbound calls.

Outbound IVR systems are commonly used when conducting telephone surveys, as a more efficient means of contacting large numbers of people. What's more, utilizing automated response technology tends to lead survey respondents to answer questions more honestly than when talking to another person.

Four Questions to Answer before Choosing an IVR System

IVR systems come with a variety features and capabilities. Choosing the right platform that answers your needs is often challenging. Some things to consider, beyond pricing, include:

    1. Will the system integrate with your other applications? You want an IVR system that integrates with other applications, such as your CRM platform. This not only optimizes your IVR system, it also minimizes costs and promotes more effective customer service.

    2. Is the system user-friendly? If the system isn't easy for your customers to use, you leave your agents to handle loads of frustrated, angry callers. User-friendly requires clear instructions and a layered menu that allows detailed interactions.

    3. Can you modify the system? You need an IVR platform with the ability to grow and evolve along with your organization.

    4. Does the system include a variety of customer interaction options? Call routing is the least of quality IVR systems' capabilities. Advanced features and interactions mean that your callers spend less time on hold, making for happier customers.

What Does a Banking IVR System Cost?

The incredible number of variables – number of lines, complexity of features, call volume – makes estimating the cost of an IVR system impossible without a full understanding of your needs. The first question to answer is whether you choose to host your IVR in-house or via cloud.

Pricing for in-house hosting for smaller organizations starts at around $1,500 per line. A medium-sized financial organization is looking at tens of thousands of dollars, with large corporations paying hundreds of thousands.

If you choose a cloud-hosted system, you save money since you don't have equipment costs. However, even these systems show huge ranges in pricing, from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand.

Pricing variability is the result of numerous factors. For example, system development costs depend on items such as:

  • Call flow size, i.e. the number of branches and menus
  • Personalization
  • Speech recognition capabilities
  • The number of backend integration points

The entire cost includes fees from three areas:

  • IVR usage: The application, infrastructure, IVR platform, maintenance, and compliance
  • Telco: The fees your telecom provider charges, including the cost to transport calls, VoIP, toll free numbers, and taxes
  • Professional services: The development of your system, maintenance, and modifications

When obtaining vendor quotes, ask for a complete list of all of these fees.

The Bottom Line

An IVR system represents a substantial investment for any size organization. However, if your financial institution experiences high call volume, reduced staffing needs and increased customer retention help you recoup these costs.

Choosing the wrong IVR system has the opposite effect. To protect your investment, try before you buy. Choose a vendor that offers free trials and/or a money-back guarantee. This helps you ensure your chosen platform is up to the demands of your business.

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