Interactive voice response (IVR) can sometimes get a bad rap. For many, IVR represents a delay before having their problem resolved or reaching the appropriate agent. In other words, it’s widely perceived as a barrier the caller must overcome, not an aid.
This isn’t the fault of IVR technology, however; this bad reputation comes from companies that set up their IVR poorly and without the thoughtfulness that can transform IVR into true asset of the customer service chain.
“When done correctly, interactive voice response can be not only a great tool for your call center by reducing agent talk time, but also an asset to your customers,” wrote Aida Kamber for telephony solutions provider Avoxi. “When customers find they are able to speak to the right person the first time,and don’t have to speak to an agent for simple transactions, customer satisfaction will increase and cloud IVR won’t be seen as a burden.”
Making IVR a valuable aid instead of a barrier is easy; it just requires thinking like the customer and not building a boilerplate menu setup that enrages customers when trying to call in.
In light of this, Kamber comes stocked with four common-sense tips that every manager setting up an IVR menu system should keep in mind if a good customer experience is the goal.
First, keep it simple – short, sweet and discreet.
“There is nothing more frustrating than a cloud IVR that has eight different options and eight different levels,” says Kamber. “By making your cloud IVR short and to the point, your call completion rates will increase, as will customer satisfaction.”
This includes making the most common options first. If your research shows that a high percentage of callers are inquiring about sales, for instance, make the sales option the first item on your IVR menu. Making a useful IVR menu system means getting customers to their desired location as quickly as possible. You may love your IVR, but that doesn’t mean your customer wants to be listening to it all morning!
Next, have trained and knowledgeable agents on the other end of the call when a caller does reach a live person. This is a big part of why outsourcing and hearing an international employee on the other side of the line has become such a dreaded experience for many callers. It isn’t that there’s anything inherently wrong with these agents; it is the lack of training and ability to resolve issues that often accompany such workers that is the real problem. Learn from the backlash and have agents ready who can actually resolve issues promptly for the caller. Hiring unqualified workers might seem like a quick fix, but it is really only like putting a band-aid on an untreated wound.
Another frustration with IVR is getting trapped in the system. In light of this, Kamber’s next suggestion is to always provide an out where callers can reach a live agent. Usually this is reserving “0” on the dial pad for the operator. When it comes to IVR, there may honestly be nothing worse than being sucked into the black hole or getting entangled in the spider web of redundant, automatic requests. While it is preferable to have your customers go straight through the IVR (or in some cases, only through the IVR), know that the comfort and support of a live agent is usually always preferred.
“No matter how well your interactive voice response is set up, some customers are going to be unwilling to listen to all of the options,” wrote Kamber. “Allow these customers to press ‘0’ for an operator who can direct them to who they are trying to reach.”
Finally, use the information gleaned from customers during the IVR process. Similar to the above, there’s nothing more frustrating than entering account details only to be asked the same question again when passed to a live agent. If you collect the info, make sure it gets properly passed along to agents so they do not have to ask the same questions repetitively; show that the IVR is more than just a gatekeeper.
If you follow these specific practices, chances are you will improve the customer experience for your callers and help change the wrongly accused stale reputation of IVR.
To learn about fool-proof IVR solutions for your business now, click here.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo