What is IVR and why do we use it?
Interactive Voice Response (or IVR) allows customers who have contacted you to steer their call using either voice or their phone keypad. It’s often the first point of contact your customers have with you when calling your company, and so it plays a critical role in reinforcing your brand and setting the tone for your customer’s experience. A well-designed IVR will further your company’s customer-centric goals by helping people quickly navigate a path to a self-service option or to the right agent to help them.
The key to making your IVR work for your customers and your team is just the same as for the other practices we espouse: make it easy to use.
In this article, we share several core principles of Best Practice in IVR Design – things you must get right if you’re going to get your CX right.
Clear the exits
IVR isn’t just about managing call routing for your agents. It’s also about making it as easy and as fast as possible for customers to find the right help.
Get to the point – Don’t bog them down with eight or nine different menu items. Analyse activity and ensure the more popular choices are at the beginning of the menu, to help speed up the process. See our article IVR-Design Tips for more info on optimal menu structure.
Keep it simple –Remember that it’s all about serving your customers in the best and quickest way to suits their needs at the time. A customer who’s in a rush may initially be willing to give self-service a try, but soon realise they’d much rather just speak to someone to have their query sorted quickly, hands-free. Always include an option to speak to an agent from wherever they are in your IVR, so the exits are clear.
Say that again? (Please don’t make me)
If you ask for qualifying information from your customers as part of the IVR process, make sure this information is actually passed through to the agent’s screen. Nothing is more frustrating for customers than having to provide the same information multiple times in the same call. It’s an effort you’re making them expend again and again, and disregarding this can make your customers feel that you don’t value their time. With Premier Contact Point, we make sure the validation information is passed through to the agent so your customers experience seamless service.
Include visual IVR for mobile users
With the majority of Australians using their mobile phones for just about every form of communication, it’s important to provide a visual IVR service specifically for mobile phones. This lets your customers quickly navigate your IVR system direct from their mobile screen, and transition easily to interacting with your agent via voice, email, web chat or SMS. Check out our article Contact Centres for the Mobile Phone Generation to see mobile IVR in action.
Make your voice count
Whether you opt for a professional voice artist to record your IVR messaging, or go with an online text-to-speech recording, remember this will be the voice of your brand, and is an oft-overlooked part of your customers’ experience. Choose a voice that best reflects your company’s persona and will resonate with your customers. And remember to script your IVR messages the same way.
A good customer experience is based on consistency, and your IVR voice and messaging should integrate seamlessly with other contact points and communications with your company.
Make your customers’ voices count too
There’s still only one reliable way to know what your customers are thinking: ask them. When you’re designing your IVR framework, test it with your team and a willing customer group before going live.
Once your IVR is in full swing, check in with customers every so often to make sure you’re meeting their needs and expectations.
The same goes for whenever you make updates or smaller changes to your system. Test it before rolling it out, so you can catch and correct any glitches, dead ends or introduced errors.
What you can measure, you can manage
Use reporting to benchmark your IVR’s performance, to identify areas you can improve and refine. As you build up information over time, you’ll be able to start anticipating your customers’ needs, as well as your competitive position in the broader market.
For instance, you may notice some menu options being chosen much more often than others when people call you. Use this information to update your IVR menus, prioritising the more popular options and giving customers the chance to move through the menus more quickly.
Walk in your customers’ shoes
It might seem obvious, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the functional side of your work and forget about the personal side. At the end of the day, your IVR is about making things easier for your customers (and helping your agents serve them more effectively). When you’re planning your IVR design, think about your own experiences with these types of systems, what you’d do differently, and apply these thoughts into your own design.