7 Ways to Make your IVR More Customer-Friendly


Customers find an IVR system to be useful because it is faster, available 24*7, better for simple and routine tasks and of course a cost-effective solution. However, despite acknowledging IVR systems to be useful, still many callers prefer to interact with a live agent over the automated self-service machine. The main reasons why users don’t like to interact with an IVR system when trying to connect with brands are:

  • They can’t find the right option
  • It takes too long
  • It doesn’t understand what they say

Lengthy menu options with long stream of dull and confusing prompts, frustrates the callers and makes them impatient. Poor voice quality leads to customers being forced to repeat the information or miss which digit to press. Difficult to navigate and hard to understand IVR systems results in customers pressing the “0” button to get directed to a service agent and if they are again asked to repeat their information or get re-directed to another department, they end up hanging up the phone because of utter resentment.
To cater to the above mentioned problems, organizations must develop an IVR system that is able to meet the needs of everyone- right from customer service, IT to the end users. A user-friendly, well-designed and intuitive IVR that is capable of making the customers’ call experience accurate and enjoyable is what is required today.
Below, I have mentioned 7 ways to achieve this:
Know Your Customers and Design the Menu Items Accordingly
Confusing and irrelevant menu options are a result of an incomplete knowledge about the callers and the kind of information they want to seek. A good IVR system must be designed in a way that accommodates the needs of the customers and what they actually want to accomplish on the phone. Before developing an IVR system for your customers, conduct a research to determine for which all purposes the callers are getting in touch with your current system and with live agents. Also, keep in mind the demographic profile of the customers in order to better cater to their needs. While millennials might carry out a complex task through IVR, an old customer may want to speak to an agent as soon as he faces any confusion.
Some basic tips regarding menu options are:

  • Lesser Menu Items: As customers can’t see the choices and need to remember the menu, the ideal IVR system should not have more than 5 menu items. Beyond this, it would be difficult for people to remember the choices.
  • Put the Popular Options First: Keep the most frequently used menu items in the beginning of the list so that callers don’t have to listen to the entire menu.
  • Ensure Appropriate Pause: Don’t forget to maintain pauses between menu items especially when the IVR asks them to press buttons.

Do not Automate Everything
With the integration of highly-advanced speech recognition and data management technologies with IVR systems today, companies want to automate as many tasks as possible. But, overstuffing the IVR system makes it cumbersome to navigate which ultimately end-up driving the callers to live agents and the whole purpose of designing the IVR go waste.
It is advisable to analyze your company’s needs appropriately and shortlist the tasks that your IVR will handle through the speech-enabled system.
Keep the Language Simple
Make sure that the callers are able to clearly understand the information being presented and the questions being asked, when interacting with an IVR. Ensure that the prompts are simple to apprehend and doesn’t confuse the callers.
Here are certain tips

  • Incorporate user-friendly language: Present voice prompts in the user’s language and in a friendly tone.
  • Avoid jargons: Speak the user’s language and do not use technical terms and unfamiliar acronyms which are difficult for them to understand.
  • Be Precise: Use short and concise phrases for menu items which are easier to remember.
  • Explain Customer errors: If an error occurs, tell the caller what the error was, and explain in more detail what type of correct input is expected.

Identify Caller’s Name
As customers expect personalized services, design your IVR in a way that it gives special attention to callers by identifying their names by the number and then addressing the person by name. This will prevent you from giving a generic notion to the customers and make them feel more valued.

Treat your Loyal Customers Differently

A loyal customer who has been there with your company for long and keeps on calling for assistance should be recognized and treated in a better manner. As his call history and past interactions are present in the IVR, this information should be utilized to customize the conversations in the future. For example- if a caller “XYZ” repeatedly calls to enquire about his account balance, the next time the person calls, the IVR might directly state: “Hello Mr XYZ, would like to know your account balance today? This will make your customer satisfied and save his precious time.
Go for Visual IVR
Visual IVR is a more user-friendly and visual extension of the existing IVR system. It helps in increasing customer satisfaction as well as lowering costs. Consumers can see the menu interface of your company’s current IVR technology on your website or on their smartphones through your mobile app. Users can see and touch their way from menu to solution and can also view holding time or choose a call back from a specific agent.
Visual IVR allows customers to perform their routine tasks efficiently and quickly without having to listen to an over-stuffed IVR or speaking to a representative. It is a customer-centric, fast and easy-to-use solution that lowers inbound call volume and generates higher revenues for the company.
Test the IVR System Accurately
Simply building and setting-up an IVR system is not enough. It is equally critical to test your system to optimize it fully. Perform a test by asking few of your employees to call the customer support line and figure out the issues or challenges that they encounter. See if their calls are being misrouted or going answered. Their feedback would help you a great deal in revamping the IVR system and its messages.