Building a better IVR to avoid “worst-ever” customer experience
Companies say they value their customers, but you might hear some contrary views if you initiate a discussion about interactive voice response systems (IVRs).
To better understand the needs of our own customers, our staff collects anecdotes about IVR use and what satisfies or drives customers over the edge.
Given the number of customers using the phone for customer connections, IVR satisfaction is something to take seriously. Forrester Research says that about 69 percent of U.S. consumers use the phone for customer service.
So, what’s pushing IVR users over the edge?
- Confusing and overloaded menus and an abundance of sub-menus that sometimes use company jargon. A utility that has since improved its IVR had been using the term “demolition desk” as one of its prompts. How many customers would understand that the prompt would be for builders to remove and set up new electric services at a construction site?
- Hold times. Sure, companies value consumers, but that’s not always apparent to customers waiting for help on the other end of the line.
- Repetition. Customer service agents hear this complaint frequently after customers input their information on the phone key pad or voice system. Why, they ask the agent, must they repeat their information and their issue once they reach a live representative?
So, what should companies do to improve their IVRs? Here are some IVR best practices:
- Design your system with the customer in mind. Ask for feedback and use it to route calls efficiently, but also in a way that makes sense to the caller. Remember, three menu options are preferable to nine. What design options are available to best serve customers and also serve your company’s bottom line?
- Use conversational language such as contractions (you’re, for example). Use customer feedback to look for usage patterns and informal styles of speech to design your menu and prompts. It may make your company seem friendlier, which is important if that’s part of your brand or image.
- Train your representatives in as many skills as possible to avoid hold time and gain routing efficiencies.
- Review and edit your recorded scripts frequently to reduce wordiness, which creates efficiency for you and your customers. Get rid of jargon or terms that may confuse a customer.
- Offer a bail-out option up front. Even the best menus may not serve all needs. Offering an opportunity to reach an operator may reduce customer frustration with your IVR.
- Avoid a system that will hang up on customers. Poor form, indeed!
- Make sure you’re using professional voices for your recorded scripts.
- Set a tone, and make it memorable for your audience of users. Does the tone convey professionalism, innovation, efficiency or whatever you’ve determined as a brand or image for your company?
- And, above all, make it as easy as possible for customers to interact with your company.
Access Direct can help you optimize your interactive voice response system. We design a variety of hosted systems for businesses, scaled to fit your current customer base, with original scripts written and recorded by professionals. We can show you, too, how easy it is to scale these services to accommodate future business growth.
We’d like to ensure that your business is never tagged in a “worst-ever IVR experience.”
Interested in learning more about our IVR expertise? Get in touch with our team at Access Direct.