While not everyone enjoys reaching out to customer service only to be met with an automated system, the reality is that if we want efficient, self-service interactions, we have to let go of the live agent. For contact centers, this means taking advantage of interactive voice response (IVR) systems to meet their needs.
This innovative tool can help an organization streamline communications, reduce the cost of the customer contact and enable comprehensive self-service, if designed right. An IVR system will generally be comprised of telephone equipment, routing infrastructure, a database, CRM applications and other software. It can then be used for call forwarding, to manage polls and surveys, to route calls within the office, to find centralized information, for account management and more.
To ensure the best possible experience, an IVR system has to be designed with the needs of both the customer and your business in mind. In other words, you should meet customer needs while still staying within the guidelines of your internal strategy. Consider a few tips from Viola Allen of SIPTrunkProviders.com, the first of which is to restrict the options available to your customers. This is not to suggest that they shouldn’t have access to the options they want. Instead, you should limit the ways in which they can get lost and confused with too many choices.
A second piece of advice is to make sure you provide an option for the customer to get out of the IVR and connect with a live person when desired. Not every interaction is best suited for the automated system. If the situation gets frustrating for the customer, it can cause frustration in the experience and even hurt your brand perception. Giving them a way out communicates that you want them to provide the self-service options they desire, but are still here for them if needed.
Allen also recommends that the IVR be designed with the most familiar options offered first. If there are things customers contact the call center about more frequently than others, these items should be listed first. That way, time on the call and activity within the system is reduced for the majority of your callers. Likewise, it’s important to train all executives on the topics that are most often discussed in a call. If a customer needs to speak with an expert who can actually address their issue, the customer experience is significantly degraded no one is available or the one who is proves to be ineffective.
To get the most out of your IVR, take these tips to heart. While one of your goals is, no doubt, to reduce cost, the ultimate goal should be to improve the experience for your customer so you can secure the loyalty you need for long-term revenue opportunities.
Edited by Blaise McNamee