Seven Steps to IVR System Nirvana
April 01, 2011
By Linda Dobel, TMCnet Contributor
After years of getting a bad rap, becoming popular fodder for countless blogs and customer rants, can it be that interactive voice response (IVR) is now a technology you should dismiss out of hand as something to which you would never subject your all-important customers?
Absolutely not! The reason is simple: It’s not the technology, but how you use it that determines whether or not IVR will be customer pleasing.
So what can you do to turn IVR into a technology that provides an enjoyable experience because it helps both your customers and your business? Simply be sure to avoid common traps and adhere to the following seven principles.
1. Be sure you provide your customers the option to reach an agent whenever it’s necessary. In other words, don’t let your enthusiasm for automating overshadow the basic principles of customer service.
2. Do not make your customers listen to a really long menu before allowing them to speak with an agent. The same admonishment as stated in number one applies here as well.
3. Speaking of connecting with agents, if your business requires callers to enter an account number or telephone number or any other identifying information when they enter the system, it is imperative that the entered information is conveyed to agents so customers do not have to repeat or reenter the identifiers. Their time is valuable, it’s often frustrating to repeat information and it makes your business look like it does not have its act together if the information is not integrated.
4. Be sure you know how much information is too much information when you load your IVR. If you overwhelm your customers with too much information, they are simply going to hang up or become so frustrated with your business that it negates any benefit you hoped your IVR would bring.
5. And when you are evaluating how much information you relegate to the IVR, be cognizant of the fact that not everything can be automated; some issues are just too complex and will be better handled by an agent.
6. Keep your IVR information fresh. This is especially important in environments where repeat calls are the norm. (How many times have you witnessed a coworker holding a telephone receiver, rolling their eyes and mouthing the long greeting they are hearing for the umpteenth time?) And remember that while holiday greetings are nice, when they get stale it’s a poor reflection on your business.
7. Don’t neglect to tap into the information you receive from your social media channels like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter as well as other online venues like e-mail and chat to keep your IVR up-to-date. Today’s customers almost demand the ability to turn to multiple channels to contact you, so you need to convey the image that you are listening to them no matter how they contact you and are coordinating the input they provide you across all channels.
Neglecting these steps can result in a bad customer experience with your IVR. And bad customer service experiences are very costly to the businesses that serve them up.
Zendesk recently assembled an infographic that makes that fact painfully clear.
First, customers today are very aware that they don’t have to endure a bad business experience —the Zendesk graphic demonstrates that 82 percent of customers say they simply take their business elsewhere when they receive unacceptable service from a company. This correlates closely with a recent American Express (News - Alert) Global Customer Service Barometer that showed that 81 percent of its poll’s respondents said a bad service experience was enough to keep them from returning to a business. http://www.upyourservice.com/blog/service-culture/what-is-the-real-cost-of-lousy-service
None will apply to your business’s use of IVR when you follow the seven steps of great menu and navigation design. Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny