September 18, 2012
IVR: Helping Your Customers Help Themselves
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
While many companies seek to improve the customer experience they offer – reworking contact channels, revamping self-service and spending a lot of time figuring out what customers want – few actually think of the most obvious solution: asking their customers to help them deliver the best possible customer experience.
Business2Community’s Errol Allen recently suggested some ways companies can entice their customers to help them deliver a better customer experience.
First, writes Allen, be sure you tell your customers what you need from them in order to help them to the best of your ability. You can do this via all channels: on your website, your interactive voice response (IVR) solution, and at service counters or kiosks in the case of brick-and-mortar organizations. Let them know what they need to help the process go smoothly: order or customer numbers, documentation from past transactions, receipts and other information. This way, you’ve helped your customers best prepare upfront for the transaction to help make it a smooth one.
Next, be clear to customers before transactions even begin how they can get through the process swiftly and efficiently. If you can’t provide a certain service via a certain channel, make sure they know that before they even contact you. If you have special information regarding a new product, back-orders, returns or any other issues that may gum up the customer interaction process, state it clearly up front to take confusion out of the equation before the customer service process even starts.
Finally, tell your customers how to help themselves. While some customers are happy to allow a human representative to walk them through the process, others are willing and sometimes even prefer to use self-service. Make sure it’s available to them, and more importantly, make sure it’s well designed so that you’re helping them help themselves, rather than confusing them. Poorly designed IVR menu trees, for example, do more harm than good. Not only are they ineffective, they will bring down the customer experience and cause your customers to place an unnecessary call to a live agent, usually when the customers are already frustrated by what could be an inefficient IVR. Instructions should be clear, information should be current and the route through your system should be clean. To be sure this is the case, give all your customer self-service channels a periodic run through to be sure you know they are working properly.
While most of your customer service may still happen between live agents and customers, helping your customers prepare themselves properly to interact with you via whatever channel they choose can yield large benefits. When you really sit down and think about it, nothing else seems to make more sense!
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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