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It can be difficult to meet growing customer demands while maintaining optimal operation costs. But, by implementing an interactive voice response (IVR) system, it can be easy to maintain and even reduce costs while still providing quick access to information that customers need. IVR systems can accurately recognize customer interactions, whether it be AI-driven speech interaction, dual tone multi-frequency, keypad generation, or spoken, in order to provide help and information to customers over the phone. Callers tend to prefer self-help features over long hold times and these systems can cost far less than hiring live agents. But, before implementing an IVR system, it is important to think about what exactly will best suit your needs.
The natural thought process when designing and implementing an IVR system is to model the IVR flow after the data layout in your backend systems, which is perfectly fine so long as the programmers that set up that back end system did so with the customer in mind. But if the data has been stored in a way that is easy for your business to access as opposed to laid out in a way that the average customer would like to receive information, then your IVR application will be pointless. It needs to be designed specifically with the customer in mind, allowing them to easily and quickly access the information they need, so that your customer base will continue to use the system.
Make Your System Intuitive
The point of interactive voice response applications is to give your customers an easy way to quickly retrieve information or complete tasks. If your IVR system is not intuitive or easy to follow then customers will not use it; why use a system that complicates things? Because of this, it is necessary to be open to change. Changing options or prompts from time to time is a great way to keep your system updated and figure out what works best for your client base. If your IVR system is hard to customize or update, it is probably time to look into a different system.
Keeping your options limited is a good idea. It is typically recommended to have an IVR system with four or five options at most in a single menu. The more options you have the more cluttered your system and the harder it is for customers to navigate. Also, avoid having too many menu levels, as it can be off-putting and time consuming, which is the opposite of what an IVR system should be.
Make it Personal
The beauty of an IVR system is the immense capability for personalization that it offers. These may seem like highly impersonal applications, but they actually allow you to make strong customer connections. If it is a known caller, go ahead and respond accordingly: provide local numbers or information based on their location, greet them by name, or even communicate in their preferred language. A good IVR system learns more about your customers each time they contact you, and the more it knows the more personal their experience will be. When your customers can call in to quickly complete tasks and gather information, while receiving the same level of personalized treatment as if they were speaking to a live agent, you know that you have created a truly wonderful experience.
Live Agent Access
Your IVR menu should be designed so that a customer never needs to speak with a live agent, but that does not mean that there should not be an option to do so. Some people still prefer to speak to live agents when calling in, or maybe they just feel the need to speak to a real person, so it is important that that option is available in order to create a truly positive customer experience. Whether it be a keypad option or voice recognition, always include the ability to reach a live agent with any IVR system.
Providing alternative solutions and options to your customers can keep them engaged in the process and let them know that you care about their business and any questions/concerns they might have. It is a good idea to let customers know of the current wait time (should there be one) when they call in and to offer options such as IVR call back (directly calling the customer when the next agent becomes available so they don’t have to wait on hold) and voicemail. This way they don’t have to wait on hold, which can drop customer satisfaction, but they do not lose their place in line when seeking information.
The primary purpose of any IVR system should be to create an effortless and fast way for customers to complete minor tasks and retrieve information. This means that you will need to give your system plenty of attention to make sure it is doing just that. Set up an application that works for your customers and perform periodic tune ups to ensure that it never provides anything less than perfect service. The right system and set-up keeps your customers happy and returning, and means better business all around for you.