Over the course of the first three (3) months, customer preferences when it came to their
bill paying option appeared to undergo a significant transformation that has continued up to the present day.
Briefly explained, IVR Payments – also known as Automated Pay By Phone – are payment applications that enable customers to interact with an automated system over the telephone to pay bills and/or store credit cards that can be used for future payments by interacting with an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
With IVR Payments, the process by which a business can collect their customer’s credit card information by phone is fully automated and secure, which meets PCI compliance guidelines. Staff and live agents need never have access to customers’ payment information.
The two (2) most commonly used IVR Payment applications are – Customer Self-Service and Agent Assisted.
With the Customer Self-Service approach, customers can pay their bills 24/7 by phone without any live agent or staff intervention.
With the more high-touch Agent Assisted approach, customers have the option to interact with agents up until the point where they are required to enter their credit card information. At this point the agent connects them to the automated IVR payment application for the card entry or/and card registration.
For this study, Datatel examined companies that opted to offer their customers a combination of both, i.e. they were given the option to (a) speak to an agent first before making a payment and (b) making a customer self-service payment with no agent involvement. In the first month, when the companies began offering the Automated Pay-By-Phone option to its customers, the majority of customers chose to speak to an agent by an overwhelming margin. In the first month that the Pay By Phone was available to customers, 98% of the payment calls were being handled by agents who then transferred the call when it came time for the customer to enter their credit card information.
By the second month, while there was a noticeable increase in the number of customer self-service payment calls, the agent- assisted calls were still nearly 90% of the total. However, by the 3rd full month of their Automated Pay-By-Phone option being available to customers there was a much sharper uptick in the number of Customer Self-Service payment calls being placed, to the extent that they now constituted a significant majority of the payment calls, by a margin of 72% (Customer Self-Service) to 28% (Agent Assisted/Transferred)
By the 4th month, of the Automated Pay By Phone availability to customers, 98% of the payment calls were through the customer self-service payment calls option, and that figure has remained in the 90s ever since for the duration of the study, with the exception of February of 2020 when it was 89% (see charts below)