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IVR - Design Your IVR to Deliver Efficiency Benefits or Customers Will Suffer
May 31, 2011

Design Your IVR to Deliver Efficiency Benefits or Customers Will Suffer

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has not always been the customer’s friend. At times, spotty systems could leave the caller frustrated and landing in departments they didn’t need or that could not help them. At other times, primitive IVR platforms could only capture specific instructions and had a limited number of choices when it came to execution. 

IVR today, however, has changed immensely. The advancements in this space have enabled companies and contact centers to streamline much of their standard communications, all while delivering an optimal experience for the customer. As captured in this recent Plum Voice blog, the automation of a company’s repetitive calls ensures users can access the information they need in a quick and easy way, avoiding the queue in the process. 

The length of the average call is also shortened as a result of IVR. It is up to the company, however, to ensure the optimal use of the IVR platform if all benefits are to be realized. For instance, the IVR system with complex menu options, survey questions or requests for information quickly frustrate the customer and make the system itself pointless. Instead, the call flow or user interface has to be designed to be user-friendly to ensure the organization can truly realize the benefits of the IVR technology. 

Caller frustration can quickly lead to caller defection and you don’t want to hand customers to your competition. Instead, keep the call flow within the IVR platform simple, while you improve containment rates and decrease abandoned calls. The menu options must be kept short and if a number of options are offered to all callers, the first set of options should be no more than five selections. The most routine or frequent of caller requests should be presented within the first menu options. 

To keep your IVR application caller friendly, be selective in your wording. This communication level should be simple and consistent. Your IVR application should prompt your callers to enter data or navigate menu options with the use of similar phrasing so that callers are not confused. If you employ automatic speech recognition, use this technology only to collect data that a caller cannot enter through a touchtone keypad. 

In designing the ultimate IVR platform, remember that you implemented this technology to streamline your communications cost and time, and to deliver a better experience for the customer. You have to adhere to both goals when designing and implementing the platform, or you will negate the benefits and only cause confusion and frustration.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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