The goal of IVR is to automate frequent call center tasks to free up an agent’s time and reduce or even eliminate customer wait time. IVRs can be extremely efficient in contact centers by automating part of the customer interaction, typically by gathering the caller information, in order to lower operating cost and route the caller to the most skilled agent for their inquiry or provide self-service.
In order for contact centers to take advantage of the many benefits, there are some simple guidelines to ensure success.
- Always offer live agent assistance - there will always be things that only agents can handle. Offering an escape option not only keeps satisfaction levels high, but provides insight on what customers need. That feedback should be used to to improve the IVR.
- Make your IVR system easy for customer to navigate - if the IVR does not quickly get the caller to their answer or a skilled agent promptly, callers will become frustrated and opt to leave the IVR or skip the IVR by pressing zero. One trick is to always announce the option before the action required. For example “To speak with finance, press 2”. You also want to limit the amount of options available. A humans short-term memory can typically hold no more than 5-9 separate pieces of information at a time. Therefore minimize the number of menu options to ensure ease of use.
- Provide feedback - always play feedback prompts after caller make a choice. This confirms that the choice was accepted and clarifies that the customer is on the next step in the flow.
- Maintain context so customer don’t have to repeat themselves - information collected in IVR must make it to agent desktop. Oftentimes it can be hard to maintain context in a multichannel contact center especially if the channels are siloed or provided by different vendors. With an omnichannel contact center solution provider the system will retain data from all previous conversations across all channels. Repeating problems usually infuriates customers and ruins customer experience. With an omnichannel solution you can keep track of all information gathered in the IVR so that when a customer is connected with an agent, they don’t need to repeat themselves.
- Make sure the IVR ends - all repetitions and loops in the IVR flow must be limited. If loops exist, you may incur and increase in dropped calls by confused customers. It can also be costly if consumers get lost in the IVR tree, thinking they are waiting for an agent, while wasting money on a toll free line.
- Eliminate IVR altogether for dropped calls and omnichannel scenarios - if an agent is working with the customer on another channel. For example, in a SMS interaction, or in a wrap up after a call that was just dropped, do not offer IVR at all, just connect the call directly to the agent.
- Continuously make improvements - many companies spend a great amount of time upfront when building out their IVR and then abandon it. This leads to IVR roadblocks. Try not to make the same mistake over and over again. If it is clear that customers are getting tripped up on one of the IVR steps, you need to design a way to minimize failure when navigating through the IVR. Our experts recommend reviewing an IVR at least monthly to see if it is still meeting customer needs. Simple reports on where customers drop out and what part of IVR are most popular, along with the information on which calls escaped to agent offer great insight on what can be improved.
Benefits of IVRs are endless and IVRs are necessary in all contact centers to increase efficiency and lower costs. Although many customer can become irritated by an IVR menu, if designed properly they are a win-win for both the contact center and end user as inquiries are automated and resolved faster.
Choose Bright Pattern as your omnichannel contact center software vendor and you can be sure to make the most out of your IVR. Not only will you be investing in award winning cloud-based technology but you will be partnering with industry experts on IVR and inbound calling. Our team can help you succeed in your inbound call center operations.