Libby James from Voice Connect speaks to Secure Trading about the demand for IVR (Interactive Voice Response) payment facilities within the merchant service market, and how despite technology advances over the years customers still chose to make payments over the phone. 

Libby co-founded Merchant Advice Service in August 2016, a non-biased website which helps its customers to secure suitable card processing, working alongside industry experts in the UK and Europe. She recently joined forces with Voice Connect to work within the payment products area of the business, which includes IVR solutions. Libby’s extensive background within merchant services, coupled with fresh approach to telephone payment facilities enable her to provide a great insight into the future of telephonebased card processing.

How does IVR work to create a seamless checkout experience?

For those who do not know, IVR in the world of payments means enabling customers to make card transactions over the phone, keying their card details directly into the telephone keypad. This automated facility often integrates with company systems meaning that transactions can be authorised with little effort from the customer, as existing client data will be shared between the IVR provider and the company’s existing customer software. 

IVR systems are automated, therefore clients can make payments at a time to suit them. With not everyone having access to the internet, IVR facilities provide an easy alternative, allowing payments to be made from almost anywhere – without the need for staff support.

What types of businesses accept IVR payments?

A wide variety of companies choose to accept IVR payments alongside online transactions and face-to-face payments. Giving customers more payment options has been proven to reduce late and missed payments. IVR is most commonly used in bill-paying industries such as utility firms, debt collection, housing companies – including housing associations – as well as estate agents and businesses who wish to accept credit card transactions without the need of staff being involved.

What are the key benefits to merchants that choose to use IVR? 

IVR facilities streamline payments and most importantly the admin involved. They are often integrated with existing back end systems, making reporting and accounting easier and more time efficient for merchants who choose the service. Other benefits include: more payment options for your clients, no end user required, freed up phone lines for other areas of the business (due to the IVR being a separate and secure telephone line), and increased security due to no payment data being stored. What’s not to like?

What are the key characteristics that a merchant should look for in a payments provider when looking to take payment using IVR technology? 

For merchants to accept IVR payments they will require a MOTO (mail order telephone order) merchant account. When searching for a provider it’s important to be clear about how you are planning on accepting card transactions, and to apply for an account which is suitable for IVR processing. Merchants should also use a provider which integrates with the chosen IVR supplier. 

How crucial is it for merchants that bespoke integration and integrated back-end systems (CRM and client databases) are included within the IVR platform?

Although it’s not crucial to have a fully integrated system, it does make life a lot easier! Automated payments and integrated systems free up time to be spent in other areas of the business. This coupled with improving the customer payment journey, makes integration a must for most!

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