Top 10 Ways to Optimize Your IVR Experience

By Tony Iero

In business, just as in life, first impressions matter. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is often the first point of contact between your business and customer base. As such, it is essential that your customers are welcomed in a way that aligns with your overall brand and customer service strategy.

Optimizing and modernizing your IVR can allow customers to be routed more effectively and have their transactional history linked for an efficient, tailored service and an enhanced omnichannel experience.

The following are 10 ways to achieve maximum efficiency from your IVR.

  1. Focus on a customer’s prior interactions

Customer expectations are constantly evolving. As customers opt increasingly for self-service, there is a want for these cross-channel contacts to be connected, creating a consistent, personalized experience. Giving agents real-time information on multi-channel customer behavior allows them to provide an enhanced service.

  1. Opt for a multi-function/advanced IVR system

Modern IVR systems allow customers to communicate more naturally across channels. Both customers and organizations will benefit from an IVR that intelligently links prior interactions. This will allow for tailored menu options to be offered, ensuring customers are either contained within the IVR through self-service or speak to the correct agent. This will increase first contact resolution, minimize internal transfers and reduce repetition.

  1. Offer an option for a callback

Put simply, customers dislike waiting. Effective forecasting does not always safeguard your center from unforeseen demand and frustrating wait times.

By offering a callback option, customers control their time with the knowledge they will receive service without remaining on hold. Callback technology, such as VHT Callback, can maintain a customer’s position in the queue or schedule a convenient callback time when there is agent availability. Customers feel empowered while you align demand to resource.

  1. Keep in mind every part of the customer journey

Greeting a customer is just one step of the journey. Prior to this, the customer has dialed the number, listened to an IVR message, selected an option and potentially waited on hold.

There are several simple, yet powerful, ways to ease customers through this process. Use a consistent, positive voice and tone through the IVR, avoid jargon, keep the menu simple and play music that aligns with your brand identity.

  1. Provide callers regular updates on their position in the queue

Modern IVR technology can notify customers of their current position in the queue, how many callers are ahead and how long they can expect to wait, reassuring them of their progress.

If your company utilizes the VHT Callback solution, callers will receive confirmation on callbacks and reminders about scheduled callbacks.

  1. Inform customers that the contact center is closed after hours

There is no greater frustration for customers than listening to an IVR introduction only to be told that the call center is closed.

Make it clear at the start of the interaction, advising customers of opening hours and directing them to self-service areas where they can still resolve queries.

  1. Limit your IVR to 5 options

Customers are often seeking a fast and effective resolution. Overwhelming them with wordy IVR menu options is likely to cause frustration and delays. The human memory can only retain so much new information at once.

An IVR should offer a simple, clear flow for your customers, ensuring they speak to the right agent first time.

  1. Measure and manage your IVR regularly

Customer demands are constantly evolving and so should the IVR. Frequently review and amend your call flow to reflect current trends. Consider if customers are self-serving as often as they should be, if they are satisfied with their experience and if the current menu options still reflect the most popular queries.

Occasionally, listen to your IVR as a customer would and honestly assess if you would be satisfied navigating it.

  1. Order your menu options to reduce customer effort

The IVR menu should be built around the customer. Analyze call data to establish the most frequently requested queries and design your IVR accordingly: option one should, ideally, be the area that generates the most traffic. Doing this will reduce customer effort and shorten time spent within the IVR.

Menu option numbers should be mentioned after the department. Customers’ ears are tuned to listen for the department they want to reach. By doing this, customers will have time to process what they hear and will be routed more effectively.

  1. Focus on the right metrics

Having the ability to effectively quantify the level of service being offered is invaluable, but focus on call center metrics that are indicative of quality:

Monitoring the average handling time (AHT) of your agents is beneficial but beware of how easy it is to manipulate this metric. Your AHT will decrease if agents rush through calls.

Likewise, high containment rates may lead you to incorrect conclusions. Directing customers to self-service where appropriate can reduce call demand but can also be indicative of people becoming trapped within the IVR when they require a personal touch.

In today’s competitive, global market, offering a complete, omni-channel customer experience is often the separator between brands. Designing and utilizing a modern, intuitive IVR with a clear, natural flow will ensure your customers receive the best service you can offer.

Find out how VHT can help your business make an effective first impression the next time your customer picks up the phone.

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