Have you ever called a company phone only to be kept on a continuously looping IVR message? Did the message give you so many options that you lost track of them? Did you actually call them to speak to their customer care rep, and never got a chance to do so? Are you nodding your head in an emphatic yes? Welcome to the world of Interactive Voice Response that is not customer friendly.
Whether you have an Online IVR or a Free IVR System or a Hosted IVR or a Virtual IVR, the primary purpose you installed one is to enhance customer experience. If the particular IVR you are using is not working towards this purpose, then it’s a lost cause.
It means that your virtual IVR system needs to be optimized. How? Here’s how:-
Make it Simple to Use
Your virtual IVR should be extremely simple to use. It’s not that complicated to understand this. How to simply the virtual IVR? Cut down on unwanted options. Make your menu crisp. When a user calls, he/she should be able to navigate to what he/she wants within a minute or two, at the maximum. Limit the number of options you give at each branch of the menu.
Having clearly worded and pronounced menus makes it easier for the customer. Be sure that the choice of words used does not leave room for ambiguity.
Make it a habit to listen in on the menu options of your IVR occasionally. This will help you understand it from a customer point of view and help you optimize your menu.
Keep your Customer Care Rep Accessible
The very purpose of an online IVR is to cut down on the costs of engaging a person to look after the calls. Any business would want to cut down on costs if automation can help it. But in the case of handling customers, that too, frustrated or agitated one, an online IVR system cannot replace a customer care representative.
If your customer wants to talk to a representative, don’t make it a chase in wonderland. Whether to keep this option right at the top of the menu or three layers down or nine layers down is a choice you need to make based on the nature of business. The bottom line is let your customers reach the customer care rep in the shortest way possible to optimize your IVR.
Monitor the menu
The menu of options is probably the most crucial element. It single handedly can either make your customer happy or frustrated beyond a point of recovery. When a customer is listening to the options on your IVR menu, his/her expectation is to be routed to the solution being sought in the shortest time possible.
While it is humanly impossible to really identify all kinds of queries a customer calls to know about, it is not rocket science to identify the basic ones. Eight of ten times, customers really call for basic or general information.
The top menu of your IVR should ideally not exceed five options. Each of the five options should again not exceed three options. Why? Because these number or possibilities are easy to remember.
Monitor your menu once in a while, putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. Critically assess the usefulness of your menu.
Strictly a Fixed Answer Menu
While on the topic of menus, completely scratch open ended questions on your menu. Firstly, they leave the IVR hanging for an answer. Secondly, there is no way on earth you can configure answers to all possibilities of queries. Thirdly, this is a sure shot way to increase your customer representative hiring budget. How else will a machine handle the permutations of open ended questions.
Create your main menu and sub menu options with clear and fixed answer choices. It makes the call hassle free and reduces the time load on the IVR.
No Branding Statements
Putting in branding statements in an IVR call response is a definite way to unbrand yourself in the eyes of your customer. Your customer believes in your brand and hence has taken the time to call your number.
He/she doesn’t expect to listen to company advertisements. Using IVR as a channel to brand your business is a one way road to finding loyal customers. In addition, it will end up costing you more.
Test, Test and Test
You need to keep testing your IVR scripts as frequently as possible. Your business evolves and so does your IVR. The options mentioned should hold a mirror to the product/service you are giving. This will help your customers relate to the menu easily.
You can critically examine the patterns of the calls over a period of time to know which parts of the scripts are useful. Sections of the scripts that are routing calls more often to the customer rep are the ones that will need your attention.
Reword and test them. Retest them and observe the difference it brings. Only when you are thoroughly satisfied, relax, otherwise test.
Consistent Language and accent
An IVR system is very impersonal. It cuts down the advantage of seeing the person talking on the other side. It is important to maintain consistency in the language, accent, tone and pitch used in an IVR message. It not only lends a professional image, it also cuts down on the processing time a customer needs when keying in menu options.
Keep the language simple, the accent neutral and the words simple. Drop all jargon. You don’t want your customer confused.
Optimizing an IVR system is a continuous process. There is no end to the possibilities, an optimized IVR solution offers to your business, provided you keep trimming the IVR to suit your business objectives.