July 05, 2012
Giving Customers a Memorable (in a Good Way) Hosted IVR Experience
By Jacqueline Lee
In a recent blog for 1-to-1 Media, Cynthia Clark reported on a great experience that she and her husband had with Banana Republic’s hosted IVR. Clark had accidentally overpaid her credit card for the clothing retailer, and she was dreading the experience of dealing with their call center.
Her experience with Banana Republic was excellent. Because her husband called from the same phone number that Banana Republic had on file, the IVR greeted him by name. When he entered the last four digits of his social security number and followed the instructions to access his account, the hosted IVR recognized the credit on his account and asked him if he wanted a refund paid by check.
“It's an example of IVR done right with win-win results--the customer was happy because he got his issue resolved in a short period of time and the company saved the expense of a contact center agent,” Clark wrote. “Additionally, Banana Republic has won two advocates who will remember this incident next time we pass by a store.”
Although we frequently hear customers complain about not being able to immediately connect to a human when they call a company, most customers are actually complaining about IVR done badly. When hosted IVR gets it right, the experience mirrors good customer service: You barely notice it. On the other hand, when IVR gets it wrong, the encounter can be extremely frustrating.
Overall, companies should reserve hosted IVR for routine tasks, like prescription refills, checking account balances and checking flight status. Other good functions for IVR include polls and surveys, call center forwarding, selective information lookup and office call routing.
The hosted IVR experience should mirror the experience that customers will find on other channels, such as chat or email, so that your company is delivering consistency through all channels.
“Nothing frustrates callers more than a menu designed to discourage them from reaching a trained specialist without offering an adequate automated alternative,” writes Tonya Beres of HowTo.gov, a portal focused on helping government agencies to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Additionally, the opening menu should be simple and easy to navigate so that customers don’t hang up the moment that they recognize a recorded voice. The most requested topics should be presented at the beginning of the recorded message so that they are quick and easy to access.
Finally, companies should extensively test their hosted IVR systems before launching then and should continue to spot test the call flow for better performance.
Edited by Juliana Kenny