Do you see your IVR (Interactive Voice Response) as an utilitarian component of your phone system? If you do, you’re right—it is. By helping to answer calls and appropriately route callers, it’s important that it works correctly and efficiently. With an automated system in place, voice prompts become the critical way you communicate with both first time and repeat callers. Properly written and recorded, your call processing will operate like a well-oiled machine. It can be very effective for a business, but sometimes callers are left feeling less than satisfied.
It’s possible to do more with your IVR. In addition to focusing on how it processes calls for you, think about how it serves your customers. Here are two recent interactions I’ve had with IVRs:
A. I called my cable company to report an outage. When my call was answered, I had the following options: Sales, Customer Service, Repairs and Installations. I knew I didn’t need sales, but was I looking for customer service or repairs? I chose blindly, waited on hold for a long time, and finally got the issue resolved.B. I was having trouble with my cell phone, so I called the manufacturer to get it sorted out. There was only one prompt to be answered, “How can we help you?” I asked my question and the system directed me to the appropriate department. There was an extended hold time, and the system asked me if I wanted to wait, schedule a call back, and/or receive an email with online resources related to my problem.
Case A was terrible. Once the call was answered, I was worried about choosing the wrong department and being bounced between different representatives. Their decision to make broad categories wasn’t helpful. In Case B, I got to state my problem in my own voice and the system redirected me accordingly. When a long hold time was detected, I was given alternative options to alleviate my problem. While I still chose to wait on hold, I also opted to receive the tech support email, which ended up resolving my problem.
Case B was successful because the company turned the tables. Instead of using their IVR system to make call processing better for them, they used prompts to make the system better for users. As a customer, I was in control of the call. I felt appropriately routed to the right department and was able to decrease my hold time by scheduling a call back appointment or by receiving information related to my problem. It turns out, I didn’t even need to speak with a representative—which worked out better for me as a customer and the business I called.
Even if you don’t have a system in place that’s as advanced as Company B, you can still use your voice prompts as tools for customer service:
- Place frequently requested options at the beginning of your list.
- Use a professional voice over talent to record your prompts to increase clarity and eliminate confusion.
- Keep menus short but specific.
- Survey customers to see what they like and what needs improvement.
By considering how your IVR system works for your customers in addition to your representatives, you can keep all parties more satisfied.