The Best IVR? It’s One That Customers Will Use.
What kind of service do your customers expect? We’ve been told that the plethora of smart devices, mobile apps and social media resources has produced a more sophisticated, complex and perhaps, finicky consumer. I take a more simplistic view: today’s consumers want everything, and they want it right now. Pretty simple, right? Either way you look at it, meeting those lofty expectations may seem to be, well, not so simple. But you can do it, and by following a few common guidelines it may not be as difficult as you think.
Investing in an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is the first step to not only meeting your customers’ high expectations, but to earning their loyalty as well. An effective IVR gives the customer the information they want, at any time they want it. That kind of convenience can help eliminate the extended hold times that have become intolerable in today’s real-time society. Not to mention abandoned calls. Well, I guess I just mentioned them. But not to worry, IVR can help there too.
To optimize your IVR investment as well as your callers’ satisfaction, proper design and set up is vital. Here again, while the expectations may have become complex, simplicity must be the key to your response. Your IVR needs to present plain, intuitive menu options with clearly defined pathways and easily understood instructions. You can have all the latest and greatest information you want, but it’s only valuable if it’s easily accessible. Keeping that in mind, here are some useful guidelines for an effective IVR call flow design:
1. What are your customers calling about? Determine your most requested topics and list them at the front of the menu. This allows a majority of callers to access information easily and complete their call quickly.
2. Limit the number of topics and options available. IVR won’t satisfy every conceivable issue, but by keeping things simple you will help mitigate confusion and frustration for callers.
3. Give callers the option to speak with a representative if the IVR does not immediately meet their needs. Believe it or not, some customers still prefer human interaction over automation.
4. Use short and concise menu prompts in vocabulary callers recognize and typically use. Avoid using slang, industry jargon or intricate terminology that callers may not understand.
5. Periodically offer “return to main menu” options or repeat a prompt to make navigating the menu easier, particularly for new callers.
6. Callers may not have account numbers, passwords, or other information readily available, so include default options for “no entry” or “invalid entry” where appropriate.
7. For multiple language options, use simple, direct messages that translate cleanly. For each language supported, use the same professional voice talent throughout the menus.
8. Programmers may have a different idea of what’s intuitive than your customers do, so take time to conduct extensive end-user testing before going live. After launch, continue occasional testing to fine tune the call flow and maximize quality assurance.
No matter how simple or complex the technology, customer experience will continue to be the determining factor in your business’s success or failure. IVR takes the superior service that your customers receive from your human agents and makes it conveniently available 24/7, at a fraction of the cost. But even a small investment could turn into a big return, with the proper planning and design.
About the Author
Bob Brotzman is the Director, Marketing Communications for CenturionCARES. When he is not developing content for CenturionCARES’ various marketing channels, he is usually found helping colleagues reach their potential by sharing unsolicited hair style critiques, quasi-inspirational thoughts-of-the-day, and generally factual historical recollections.