Listening to customers is what you do best. One of the top ways to make life easier for them is by improving (or implementing) your interactive voice response (IVR) system.
IVR is an automated self-service voice menu that accelerates resolution and improves routing. It integrates with your automatic call distributor (ACD), leveraging natural speech to collect caller information and determine optimal handling.
During extraordinary, stressful or uncertain times like these, are you learning more about what kind of service customers want—and how they want to receive it? You can take what you learn and optimize your IVR system to better solve for your customer needs.
Why? Because IVR also enables immediate response to dynamic business conditions and customer journeys. It ensures customer calls are resolved quickly and efficiently. IVR systems can be activated with simple DTMF touch tone or with fully conversational AI.
Regardless of the system, the most effective IVR menus do a good job of helping customers to:
- Resolve routine issues on their own (for example, track an order, pay a balance, or get answers to FAQs)
- Provide information or give instructions (such as booking a pick-up or reporting a payment)
- Connect with the right agent or team quickly
IVR is a critical technology for rapid response—and that goes for any organization that must quickly change how calls are addressed due to shifting conditions. These days, that’s pretty much any business in all industries.
Harvard Business Review recently chronicled how Partners HealthCare used IVR “to facilitate pre-hospital triage [on their Covid-19 hotline] to get patients to the right care setting at the right time.”
Verizon shared how government agencies on the front lines of the pandemic used IVR to manage an influx of calls hitting their queue.
These above use cases are great examples of how IVR can relieve strain on your agents while helping your contact center serve more customers. But you need to properly evaluate and design your IVR to make it work well for customers. Take a look…
EVALUATING YOUR IVR
Your call center(s) should be able to quickly make changes or add new functionality to its IVR menu in hours, not days or weeks. But first, your team should regularly review IVR customer journeys to:
- See how callers navigate menus
- Pinpoint where they get lost or drop out
- Make data-driven decisions on which updates are necessary
Here are some tips for evaluating your current system:
1. Understand the customer experience. Conduct test interactions, simulate different scenarios, and take notes on how you are routed. The more you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, the better.
2. Organize your assessment. Using standard forms will guide staff through each evaluation with consistency. Take the time to train your staff on using the forms for your assessment and why it’s important.
3. Determine how often you’ll review your IVR. Require reviews after any back-end changes are made. Regular evaluations are a great way to maintain or raise customer satisfaction (CSat) levels.
4. Facilitate feedback. Give agents a way to flag IVR system issues. Agents can bring them to your attention and offer suggestions for improvement.
For in-depth advice on how to best evaluate your automated IVR system, check out these 5 recommendations.
UPDATING YOUR IVR
IVR has the power to make life easier for callers, even if it’s just for the short time they’re using the system. But even the most sophisticated, intelligent voice platform can’t guarantee quality. Be smart about adding some of the following features and capabilities if your system is in need of an update:
Callback for convenience
While not a new innovation in IVR, offering your customers the option to receive a callback (rather than wait on hold) can go a long way to improve CSat and reduce lost calls.
Your customers don’t want to wait on hold. And you don’t want to hijack their time. The IVR callback is a fantastic solution for this common customer service speed bump.
Estimated wait times
IVR features that advise callers of their spot in the queue and ‘estimated wait time’ will boost customer satisfaction. These features reduce the number of transfers made in the system, too.
The more information you can provide your customer, the better. Notifying them of estimated wait times is just one more subtle but smart way to keep them informed.
With today’s conversational IVR technology, there’s really no need for long, complicated phone menus or unnatural voice bots.
Use an IVR system with integrated AI capabilities—like Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU)—to make it effortless for customers to get the help they want, when they want it, just by saying what they need.
Seamless elevation to live assistance
No one likes getting lost in a maze! As a best practice, be sure to provide your customers with a seamless “way out” of your automated system at any point, as needed.
Let customers elevate to live assistance with an agent quickly and easily. Offering multiple resolution options saves frustration and improves the overall customer experience.
When agents are busy, giving your customers the option to leave a recorded message is helpful for some organizations to follow up properly
Conditions change and hours of business change, so automated responses must eventually change. Ensure that your system gives you the ability to simplify changes across locations and re-work IVR messages or menus with one click for optimal routing.
Always evaluate, update, and design your IVR with your customers in mind. Put yourself in their shoes when assessing your system. Consider their changing needs, and the shifting landscape of business, when implementing new or updated IVR tools.
Never forget how powerful IVR is for simplifying customer lives, especially during stressful times!