(Update: This blog was originally published on 27th March 2018 and was last updated on 21st July 2020 for comprehensiveness and accuracy.)
The digitalised world has been on the move ever since smartphones and revolutionary gadgets came into existence. In this fast-paced world, people have learned to adapt and come to terms with the digitalised sectors of the economy.
According to a study by Statista, there are 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world and nearly every third person uses a smartphone. With 4G and now 5G technology, high-speed Internet connectivity has not only been on the rise but also become widely used and inexpensive.
With great customer service comes efficient cloud-hosted IVR service. Businesses heavily depend on efficient automated menu systems to deliver smooth customer experience during their interactions with the company, mostly on calls. While being a part of unified communications, IVR is synonymous with customer experience (CX). Information technology is all about efficient CX methods now, especially with all the drawbacks of traditional ways of communication out of the way.
As a result, customers do not have to wait long to acquire the required information. This also gives them the flexibility to report their complaints and reduce their on-call time.
However, IVR service has faced criticism from the customers too. Confusing menu options, and lengthy wait time or delay in connecting directly with an agent are some of the reasons.
We’ve compiled a list of best practices of IVR, and talked of its problems and solutions to provide a broader understanding.
Primary practices: Main solutions that can immediately accelerate your customer satisfaction
Optimising menu options
Customers call contact centres to get information about their products or services. However, this process becomes a nuisance when callers have to go through several menu options to get to the option they are looking for. A lengthy list of menu options makes it confusing as well. Hence, the more the number of menu options, the less interested the customer will be.
Businesses can mention the first set of menu options with broader categories and can guide customers towards their desired section. However, it becomes difficult to retain the caller if there are more than 3-4 menu options. Business can use simple options like:
For new product inquiries, press 1;
For product maintenance inquiries, press 2;
Direct interaction with the agent
Being stuck with a bunch of options leaves the customer agitated when their purpose of calling isn’t fulfilled. When loads of options are narrated, the customer might drop the call midway. This leaves a negative impression of the brand.
Adding an option to connect directly with a live agent on every layer of the calling menu is the best alternative to keep the customer on call. The customers won’t get lost in a series of IVR menu options. They wouldn’t have to wait and, thus, they can directly engage with the agent by entering a direct menu option like ‘Press 9’.
Minimise waiting time from minutes to seconds
Customers will expect that their inquiry is solved within a few seconds. But when the waiting time exceeds a minute, most of them start getting anxious. They might also get annoyed if they are constantly transferred between departments.
A well-designed and well-researched call routing strategy solves this problem. Depending on a number of parameters like the average call time, number of agents, most common queries, and more, one may finalise the routing strategy to make it easier for the customer.
Never disconnect customer’s call
Many times, the customers end up selecting the wrong menu option and the IVR service ends up disconnecting the call—A blunder best avoided.
If the customer selects the wrong menu option, then the IVR service provider should recite the menu options again. This will make a customer feel valued and respected.
Keep track of customer’s call history
It’s always a win-win situation when agents solve a complaint with prior knowledge of the customer’s call history. But, usually, there are a number of questions needed to authenticate the customer’s history. Customers cooperate till they think the questions are legitimate. But they might get irritated and that reflects poorly on the company.
Maintain a record or a database with details like customer’s previous complaints, inquiries, and conversations. This step will enhance the customer journey and streamline expectations beforehand.
Secondary practices: How to add value to services
Let customers select their preferred language
Catering to a multinational company’s customers from aIl over the world will require the IVR service to provide several languages. The language barrier may cost the company to lose out on customers.
Add additional languages by identifying the state from which callers are approaching and offer your customers the advantage of an additional language in the IVR solution. The service provider should be able to cover every potential caller. This step will ensure customer awareness and unparalleled customer experience.
Don’t overburden customers with your branding
Nobody likes to listen to unnecessary information about the company when there is a problem that needs to be solved. Usually, they are in a rush to get their query resolved, and the presence of a brand advertisement will only add to their impatience.
Keep the introductory message short and simple. If you want to use this opportunity to gain their trust, you can let them know of any new plan or policy rather than repeating the brand tagline.
Provide only relevant menu options
Customers often lose their patience when the IVR is presenting all the menu options. They might also not pay attention until they hear a relevant option. For example,
Press 1, for new product inquiries
Press 2, for product maintenance inquiries
The customer hears ‘maintenance inquiries’ but not the action required (‘press 2’), which might lead them to the main menu again.
A simple tweak in the message can help many customers. Put the ‘action’ after the ‘option’, so when the customer hears the word ‘maintenance’, their attention snaps back and instantly the next thing they hear is ‘press 2’. This saves time and adds another eager customer to the list.
Crystal clear IVR voices
Sometimes, the IVR recordings are too slow or too fast, or the accent too complicated to understand. Neither your customer wants that, nor do you.
While recording the IVR voices, one should make sure that it resonates with the company’s brand image. The IVR recording should also cover all aspects; the speed should be just right, the accent clear, etc. Maintaining a balance between all these factors is key to ensuring customer engagement while the IVR plays.
Written confirmations are a bonus
A written confirmation gives the customer the confidence and ability to trust the promises made by the company. Verbal confirmation is not enough and leaves the customer feeling a bit sceptical.
Written confirmation in the form of an SMS or email should be sent to the customer after the call. This assures customers that their queries are being worked upon and they wait calmly for the next step. It eliminates all uncertainties.
Make ‘call recording’ announcements only when relevant
Customers know that the calls on the server are being recorded for training purposes but might feel pestered if they are constantly reminded.
The announcement should be made only when necessary. The IVR service could recite it during transfers.
Customers expect the best service from companies and their expectations can only be fulfilled if businesses are observant of minute details and make constant amends and revisions. At the same time, a lot depends on the deployment of IVR service because of its unique functionalities and value to businesses.
Did we miss something on this best practices list? We’d love to hear from you! And if you have any questions or want to know more about IVR design and implementation, feel free to contact us.