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When executed well, IVR systems can help more of your customers self-resolve issues and enable your agents to better handle every call they receive. When done poorly, however, it can leave your customers more frustrated than when they called in the first place. Getting IVR right the first time can sometimes mean the difference between losing a customer for a life or a lifetime of loyalty.
Whether you’re implementing IVR for the first time or looking to improve your existing IVR scripts and workflows, these tips will help you create an IVR experience that resolves issues fast and leads to higher customer satisfaction.
1. Tailor Your IVR Menu Options to Call Volume Patterns
One of the biggest mistakes contact centers make with phone automation systems is creating their IVR menu without using actual data. Your first instinct might be to align your various menu options with your company’s departments (customer service, sales, IT, billing, etc.). But this doesn’t take into account the actual call volume each of those departments receives, and so isn’t necessarily the most effective way to structure your IVR menu.
Instead, it makes more sense to dive into the data to find out the most common issues customers call in about and set your IVR menu options based on those findings. You might learn, for example, that the largest proportion of callers are simply looking to pay their bill. This would mean it’d be smart to offer billpay as the first menu option.
A thoughtfully constructed menu that’s based on actual customer call data will help you maximize the efficiency of your IVR system.
2. Arm Agents With Customer Data Upfront
Your CRM is a wealth of information about your customers. Use it in conjunction with your IVR system to reduce service times and empower agents with the data they need to deliver excellent customer service.
By using an IVR system that matches caller phone numbers with their customer record, contact center agents can instantly see need-to-know details like the customer’s name and purchase history upon connection without having to ask customers to repeat information already entered into the IVR.
Save time and avoid frustration by only asking for information you don’t already have.
Profile matching also enables quick access to a customer’s call, messaging, and ticket history, which provides important context and help agents speak more directly to the needs and knowledge level of each individual caller.
3. Use Customer Data to Prioritize Queues
Just as you should use call volume data to guide the structure of your IVR menu, it’s a great idea to use customer data as a factor in determining wait time. This is another area where CRM adds value because you can use profile information to place the most valuable customers at the front of the line.
It’s just bad business to make one of your best customers wait in a call queue. Instead, assign priority to higher value leads based on data points like the length of the customer relationship, their lifetime value, or any other property you deem valuable.
You can also keep customers happy by routing calls to the top of the queue based on urgency. For example, you might give higher priority to a customer calling about a service outage than one with a question about their bill.
4. Don’t Let IVR Scripts & Messages Get Stale
The best IVR technologies are dynamic, evolving in real-time based on current events and business conditions. Serve the needs your customers have right now by updating your pre-recorded IVR messages according to what’s happening in your business.
COVID-19 is the perfect illustration of this. We’ve seen many companies take advantage of IVR to update their customers about their pandemic response and inform them of the resulting changes to their services.
But it doesn’t need to take something as large-scale as a global pandemic to alter your IVR messaging. Letting customers know about a new service offering, a new support channel, or even something as simple as a change to your business hours can be great reasons to update your phone system messaging to better serve your customers.
5. Gather Customer Feedback on the IVR Experience
As you continually seek out ways to improve your customer experience, don’t neglect to gather feedback from a critical group of stakeholders: your customers themselves.
Gauge the effectiveness of your contact center’s speech recognition and automated messaging system by asking customers about their experience using it. This can be easily accomplished by adding a short, optional customer feedback survey to the end of calls.
Solidifying the basics of good IVR navigation, ease of use, low customer effort, persona routing, and supportive issue resolution is your first step to success. It’s only through a thorough evaluation of the needs of your customers, their tasks in your IVR queue, and an understanding of what’s needed at the time of agent handoff that you can design your IVR effectively.
When you have all of the above, that’s when you know you have the processes and systems in place to offer a customer-centered support strategy.