IVR systems slash contact centre costs and even win favour with callers when they get answers easier and faster. So why do IVR disaster stories outnumber successes?

Trouble starts when companies stuff too many options into their IVR systems, confounding callers with so many pathways that they’re often left wandering deep in a forest looking for an escape route. So much for efficiency.

However, amid the hang-ups and teeth-gnashing, some providers have found a way to architect their self-service to deliver a great experience. Look no further than banks, whose introduction of ATM machines pioneered automated self-service in the modern age.

Customers lapped up the opportunity to withdraw cash, check account balances, and deposit funds at their leisure. It was good for the banks too, because it reduced in-store traffic and lowered cost per serve.

To their credit, banks kept their doors open (granted, there are a few less doors these days) but this was no act of goodwill, it was common sense. Imagine the customer revolt and vilification had bank managers required customers to use an ATM before they could walk through the doors of the bank to eyeball a bank teller.

ATMs were designed to offer a convenient mechanism to perform simple transactions, without a bank teller in sight; they function as a service enhancement, not as a replacement. And that’s the key to designing a great IVR experience.

Every company should periodically assess their IVR experience, because your customers will love you for it. We’ve identified 8 key areas for improvement to get you started on the road to a more customer centric IVR.

Here’s a quick taste, covered in detail in our new IVR Best Practice Guide.

  1. Automate repetitive transactions
    Prime candidates for IVR automation include account activation, balances and new services.
  2. Understand your customers
    Segment customers according to their expectations of your availability at key moments.
  3. Design with the customer in mind
    Observe contact centre agents, listening to callers to understand why they’ve called and the language they use to describe their needs.
  4. Always provide the option for a live agent
    Some callers prefer human contact, even when IVR system design hits all the right buttons. The question, then, is option placement.
  5. Focus on customer effort
    Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to gauge the level of effort you’re asking customers to expend. If it’s too much they’ll drop out.
  6. Sweat the so-called small stuff
    Lots that you can consider here. For starters, restrict IVR menu options to five or less, and no deeper than three levels; keep messages short, no longer than 8 seconds; link to CRMto fine tune CX; test call flow to gauge effort.
  7. Design with measures in mind
    Monitor and report the performance of IVR using a combination of high and low-level metrics.
  8. Use IVR to its full potential
    Most IVR deployments perform as a ‘gateway’ to an organisation – a way in for callers. But IVR also does great work in a number of outbound situations.

Get the full detail on how to design a better IVR experience in eight steps with our complimentary IVR Best Practice Guide.

Get your IVR Guide here

Contact Pyrios for a free consultation on how to improve your IVR system.

Author: Jo Pietersen

Business Analyst Team Leader at Pyrios