IVR

Look at Your IVR from a Customer Perspective

Sometimes it is so easy to think about the path we want our customers to take, i.e. "Press 1 for Customer Service, Press 2 for Sales, Press 3 for Technical Support." On our side of the equation we are thinking about queues and skills, agents and call flow. We want to make sure the call is routed to the best available person for the customer's needs. As important as that is, it can sometimes be easy to forget the customer experience.

One example of this is in menu options - we can tell the caller to press a number to indicate the skill they need and route the call. With three options it is simple. So simple that sometimes it can be difficult to understand why a customer wouldn't press 1, 2, or 3. We get so focused on the options WE want the customer to take that we forget whether or not every customer will fit in those parameters.

To give you one example, a few months ago I made a call to a contact center from my car. Life gets busy, so sometimes it’s most convenient to make phone calls during commuting times. Here is how the call went:

"Thank you for call XYZ Company, please enter your account number."

There was no way to enter my account number because I was driving. I couldn't enter my account number.

"We did not get your response, please try again."

I still can't enter my account number because I'm driving...

"We did not get your response, please try again."

I still can't enter my account number because I'm driving...

"We are sorry, we did not get your response, please try again later." This was followed by a hang-up and termination of the call. I was left with no resolution for the issue I had called about and a clear feeling that my call wasn't important to this company. Which I'm sure is not the customer experience they were looking for.

So how do we know if we have planned a well thought out call flow? I think it starts with the following questions that move the planning from the mechanics of the IVR to the customer experience and company continuity.

  • From the customer's point of view, is our IVR experience treating our customers with the utmost respect?
  • From the customer's point of view, is our IVR experience exceeding customer expectations?
  • From the company's point of view, is our IVR experience in the long-term best interest of the company?

The three points challenge us to create a contact flow that respects customers and exceeds expectations. This can include adding multiple channels of contact to make service more accessible, better agent training to meet customer needs, and enhancements to call flow scripting that gives the caller more options and a better experience. Doing all of this will lead us to exceeding customer expectations.

Lastly we need to make sure that we balance the voice of the customer with the bottom line, which means considering IVR options that are also a win for ROI – e.g. implementing automated speech recognition to reduce the amount of live calls to agents while still meeting the needs of customers. The reality is someone could have the most amazing IVR ever but if the ROI is bad it isn’t in the long-term best interest of the company.

When a call center can provide a service experience that exceeds customer expectations and is respectful to customers along with a great ROI, you have a win.  This balance creates not only a good customer experience, but also ensures that we are acting in the long-term best interest of the company, producing a win-win relationship for everyone.

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