In today’s world of customer service, automated IVR systems are no longer an option for most companies, they end up being a necessity. The cost of paying customer service agents, either in-sourced or outsourced is rapidly getting too high, and IVR systems are a cost effective way of bringing down the high overhead costs associated with customer service, and consequently, products. However, IVR systems are believed to be notoriously difficult to navigate, and there are still customers who will do anything they can to get to a customer-service agent even when the Interactive Voice Response system would have solved their issue. For every such misdirected query, the company producing the product and its related service ends up seeing a net loss as it has to add to or maintain considerable, and expensive manpower.
Most companies do not mean to use Interactive Voice Response systems to completely replace the customer service rep though some have with slightly disastrous consequences. No, most companies want to automate first level inquiries and basic problems so that their workforce of reps is only required for problems that are truly complex. That said, this entire scheme could backfire if the customer does not want to use the IVRS at all. How can you make the IVRS a useful one for the regular consumer? Here’s a list of our favorite tips to improve IVR scripts and processes.
- Never make it difficult or impossible for a customer to reach a customer service executive
Yes, having calls go to agents or executives defeats the purpose of the IVR, but you’ll be surprised by how often people are willing to negotiate an IVR process if they have easy access to a customer service agent at every point in the process. Customers who end up being “locked” into IVR systems are not going to be happy campers, and you can probably expect scathing emails or public disavowals from them. And, the worst part is that you could even lose them as customers. The option to call the customer service agent is a necessary safety net that most customers need to engage with the IVR system. Don’t take it away.
- Keep it simple
Your IVR system needs to be scrupulously designed so that the paths to any given query, option, or service is no longer than 3-5 steps for the customer. Even 3 can be pushing it if you want an especially good system in place. There are consultants who can help you design your IVRS to make them user-friendly, and it is worth hiring one. While it may seem like an unnecessary cost in the short-term, it will lead to long-term customer engagement and retention – two things absolutely crucial to any business. Also, always offer a roadmap of exactly where the IVR is going to take the customer, and always offer an ‘out’ option to go back to the main menu or to speak with a customer care executive.
- Use speech recognition
If you implement speech recognition, your customers will find it much easier to navigate IVR systems. That being said, the software that you purchase to implement speech recognition must be top-of-the-line. It may be a large short term investment, but as with a consultant, it will pay off in the long term. Usually, implementing voice recognition can shave off a couple of steps during the IVR process, so always rewrite your script when you put the system in place to keep it as simple as possible.
- Test, retest and constantly update IVR scripts
All of your IVR scripts need to be tested on users before being implemented and then evaluated at regular intervals to ensure that they are still effective. Try and update your script every year to ensure that your customers are able to get to the services they need. Use data gained from the calls to figure out which parts of your scripts result in more agent calls, and which parts don’t, and optimize the parts that have customers punching in a number for the agent.
- Personality, brand, humor
Try and make the IVR script as user-friendly as possible by injecting some personality into it. One way to do this would be to brand the voice used by your script and its options to try and sell it to your customers as an easy alternative to interacting with an agent. Alternatively, or in conjunction with this measure, you could also use a well-known voice for your script that people recognize. The last thing you can do to optimize your script is to have some humor in it. IVR is bound to be frustrating, and you can gain a lot of cred from customers if you acknowledge that this is possible. Designate an option that lets customers hear a funny sound or joke while waiting, or have funny music or a humorous script. All of these things will make customers more willing to engage with your automated IVR process.
Though your company might need to use IVR, it isn’t a bad thing. So long as you make the necessary investment required to make the process easy to navigate, you will see not see a change in customer satisfaction while seeing your overheads drop over time. Use our tips to optimize your IVR script today.