11 Best Practices to Provide Engaging IVR Experiences

Customers are increasingly interacting with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems across a variety of industry verticals. Cloud technologies enable enterprises to implement new-age IVR solutions without incurring significant upfront and operating costs. Today, many enterprises are deploying IVR systems in the cloud to enhance customer service. IVR systems accept voice calls and support keypad selections, unlike conventional telephone systems. Automated telephone systems have been designed to engage callers, gather relevant information, and route calls to the appropriate agents. Choosing the right IVR system will help your organization to improve call center operations by making your agents more productive and providing better customer service. Nevertheless, your organization cannot optimize the customer experience without addressing issues such as confusing menus and long wait times. To enhance your IVR system, you should implement a few best practices. What are these best practices? What is an IVR definition and what are the benefits offered by it? What are the different ways to optimize an IVR? This blog will provide you with answers to all these questions and related topics.

Table of Contents

What is an IVR?

What Are The Benefits Of An IVR?

What Makes an IVR Great?

Ways to Optimize Your IVR Experience

11 Best Practices to Provide Engaging IVR Experiences

Conclusion

What is an IVR?

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a telephone menu system that responds to voice commands. Through the dial pad, you can identify, segment, and route callers to the appropriate agent within your organization. It has the following functionalities.

Set Up a Customized Message and Prompts for IVR

Your IVR can be customized to provide your customers with customized greetings, messages, and prompts. This ensures a more personalized experience when they call your company. 

IVR Messages Can Be Pre-Recorded

You may use pre-recorded IVR messages if you prefer not to speak on the IVR. Maintaining professionalism has never been easier.

Keep Track Of Your Callers

An IVR can collect information about the needs of your customers. According to the information entered into the IVR system, they will transfer calls to the most appropriate agent or department. The chance of a caller being transferred to the wrong agent or department is reduced if calls are directed to agents through an IVR system.

Support Customers Automatically

Without speaking to a live agent, your customers can solve their problems and get the information they need. This is automated customer service at its finest.

Rank Calls According To Their Importance

By using IVRs, you can prioritize calls based on the importance of the caller. Upon receiving a high-value call, the IVR will direct the customer to the agent most qualified to assist them. Rest of the customers would be in the waiting queue if all your agents are busy. A high-value customer will never be lost due to poor customer service or a lengthy response time.

Ensure That the Call Is Routed To the Appropriate Agent or Department

Using an intelligent IVR system, callers are routed to the appropriate department or agent according to their needs.

What Are The Benefits Of An IVR?

No matter the size of your business, interactive voice response systems are essential. They make customer service more efficient and easier. 

IVR systems reduce human error by eliminating intermediaries such as receptionists.

In addition, by using an automated system, businesses can reduce the cost of employing a large customer service staff. 

It provides answers to the most common questions that organizations receive during office hours. Consequently, customer service representatives, sales representatives, and technical support specialists can focus on more important tasks.

Here is a list of the many benefits provided by an IVR.

Increases First Contact Resolution

One of the key benefits offered by the IVR system is that it enhances first contact resolution. First contact resolution is the percentage of incoming calls that have been resolved by agents in the first interaction with the customers.

First-contact resolution is significantly improved by IVR because callers are always connected to the agent most suited to their needs. It is less likely that the agent will transfer the call to another agent because they will be more qualified to answer the caller’s question.

Increases Customer Service Efficiency

Companies that use an IVR usually have agents who are more proficient at resolving specific issues. Agents are also able to respond to the special requirements of the customers to whom they are assigned. This results in enhanced service to customers.

Reduces operational costs

IVR systems will replace receptionists and customer service agents who answer calls and route them to agents. Additionally, the fact that an automated system can answer inbound calls means that the same number of employees can handle more incoming calls. Finally, these systems are highly affordable, will boost efficiency, and will reduce operating costs, so they provide a high return on investment.

Increases Professionalism

Your customers can be greeted in a very professional manner by using an interactive voice response system. It is possible to present an impression that you have more employees and departments than you actually have.

Increases Customer Satisfaction/Better Customer Experience

The use of an automated interactive voice response system can assist customers in quickly being transferred to the most competent individual (agent). By having an easy-to-use and reliable IVR, your customers will never be routed to the wrong department or into the hands of an agent who will be unable to help them. Consequently, an IVR increases customer satisfaction or enhances the customer service experience.

Round The Clock Availability 

The IVR system can be accessed by the customer at any time. Even if the outcome is just “leave a message,” the customer still receives some benefit. As a result, the customer’s perception of the process improves, which increases his or her chances of returning.

Saves Time through Interactions

An interactive voice response system can streamline the process of interacting with customers, identifying their needs, providing service using pre-recorded messages, and directing them to the appropriate department. It enables you to track the intentions and motivations of incoming callers and connect them to an agent. 

By setting specific voice messages and responses in the IVR menu, you can provide your customers with relevant information without the need to wait for an agent.

As a result, callers are connected with qualified agents who can meet their needs. This eliminates the need to forward calls to agents. As a result, you can attract high-quality customers to contact a qualified agent.

Improves Productivity of Employees and Is Easy To Use  

Your employees will be more productive if you introduce IVR. It has a simple user interface and can reduce some of your customers’ frustration when agents take calls. 

It improves customer experience by increasing call volumes and waiting times for live agents. Callers are informed of the expected waiting time and are offered callbacks, thus reducing employee stress.

A good IVR system saves both customers’ and agents’ time by reducing the number of calls. Businesses can save thousands of years of call time and improve customer service through the use of this system.

What Makes an IVR Great?

When a caller tries to interact with an IVR to learn more about the product or service, it makes the very first impression on the caller. Many of you have experienced that some IVRs are very straightforward, while others simply lead you into a maze of instructions and leave you confused. 

Is it important to look for certain qualities when selecting an IVR for your business? Listed below are some important characteristics to consider.

Keep it Simple and Easy to Understand

Your IVR instructions must be concise, clear, and specific. This message should sound as if an empathetic person is conversing with the caller, with a clear understanding of the caller’s needs.

In other words, what is being stated in the IVR demonstrates how well your business can empathize with your customers, understand their needs, and address their specific concerns.

IVRs are designed to generate some sort of reaction from the caller, so why not make it more interesting and engaging? Simplicity is the key to generating interest in IVRs. Overloading your callers with instructions will serve no purpose other than to confuse them.

Don’t Let Language Be a Hindrance, But a Medium

There should be no heavy words in your IVR that come from your colonial dictionary.  It’s better to use ‘basic’ rather than ‘rudimental’, or ‘suggest’ rather than ‘propose.’  

Likewise, you should avoid using any business jargon that only you know and that your customers do not understand. Two sentences or instructions should be separated by a pause. 

IVRs can be programmed in languages that are widely spoken. It should be user-friendly and clear for the caller to use while using it.

Help a Caller to choose and not Get Confused

At any level of the IVR menu, avoid giving the caller so many options that the interaction deteriorates into utter confusion. At any point in the navigation process, the maximum number of options should not exceed five.

In summary, you should design an IVR as if you are guiding your callers to the right destination. There should be an option to go back to the previous menu if the caller cannot select a valid option. Callers should have the ability to go back to the very beginning no matter what their level is.

A Voice that’s Mellow and that Holds Attention

Ideally, your IVR system should be voiced by a female. Studies have demonstrated that people prefer the sound of a woman’s voice to that of a man’s. The best approach would be to take the very general perception of the voice and give your IVR the virtual presence of a female. 

It is not easy to find a male voice that is liked by everyone, while you can find a popular female voice. 

Have you read our latest blog on the topic Top 9 Factors to Consider When choosing Cloud Telephony Software yet?

Ways to Optimize Your IVR Experience

A great customer experience depends on your Interactive Voice Response system (IVR). The IVR must welcome customers in a manner that complements your brand and customer service strategy.

A faulty IVR system, long recorded messages, and confusing menu options can ruin the lifetime value of your customers even before they get through to an agent. The modern and optimized IVR software allows you to:

  • Ensure that customers are routed to the appropriate department or call center agent.
  • Redirect customers to more efficient channels, such as SMS text messages.
  • Provides customers with a hyper-personalized experience by showcasing their transaction histories.
  • Reduce frustrations and hang-ups among customers.

If you use IVR platforms effectively, you can enhance customer service and wow your customers. The following are 10 ways to maximize the efficiency of your IVR system.

Begin with a Tried-And-True IVR Sequence

None of us enjoys having to navigate through a million menu options to accomplish what we are trying to accomplish. The IVR menu should be designed with the customer in perspective. 

An analysis of your call data can help you establish the most recurring requested inquiries and you can use this data to design your IVR. 

Ideally, option one should be the area that generates the greatest amount of traffic. This will reduce the amount of customer effort and reduce the time spent on the IVR.

The menu options should be listed after the department. When customers listen to the department they are looking for, their ears are tuned. If this is accomplished, customers will have time to process what they hear and their calls will be directed more proficiently. 

For example, you can modify your IVR phrasing as, “For billing, Press one.” Instead of “Press one for billing.”

You can create an efficient IVR menu by following the following steps:

  • Separate the call into segments.
  • Authentify the call (if necessary).
  • Understand the call’s intent.
  • Try automating the process if it is simple. If it is complex, let the individual choose how to complete it.
  • Establish a reasonable expectation of waiting time.
  • Include a callback option.

Consider a Customer’s Previous Interactions

Today’s marketing environment is omnichannel. Customers expect that all of these channels of communication are connected when they interact with a business.

Three-quarters of customers report being frustrated when they must repeat themselves to multiple agents. IVR systems are no special case. In the event a customer uses an IVR and eventually speaks to a human operator, they don’t want to repeat everything they’ve said before.

Integration of your IVR with your CRM will permit your agents to gain real-time insight into the behavior of your multi-channel customers. Using this application, you will be able to reduce the need to verify a customer, carry that information into your CRM, and start conversations without customers having to repeat themselves.

Consider purchasing a Multi-Functional/Advanced IVR system

Using modern IVR systems, customers can communicate naturally across channels, bypassing prompts they have already encountered in other channels. So customers are either properly routed through a self-service IVR. By minimizing internal transfers and reducing repetitions, first contact resolution will be enhanced.

IVR systems should always be used to automatically recognize the phone numbers of customers, address them personally and provide custom menu options and routing options. In addition to relieving the burden from their agents, this automation increases customer satisfaction (CSAT) even before the customer actually interacts with an employee.

To provide your customers with the best possible experience, the IVR system needs to include advanced features, such as speech recognition and CRM integration.

Provide an Option for a Follow-Up Call

In simple terms, customers dislike waiting. It is important to remember that accurate forecasting does not always protect your call center from unforeseen demand.

Offering customers a callback option allows them to take control of their time as they know they will receive assistance from an actual agent without being placed on hold. In callback technology, customers can maintain their position in a virtual queue or schedule a convenient callback time when they are both available. This empowers the customer while aligning demand with resource availability.

Consider the Entire Customer Journey

Calls are not the beginning of the customer journey. Thorough research has been conducted online by customers before dialing your business number. 

A well-designed IVR should continue the customer’s experience with your company or brand, rather than becoming a place where they become stuck or overwhelmed. By using the IVR process, you can address several simple, yet powerful customer needs:

  • Maintain a consistent, helpful tone throughout your IVR
  • Don’t use jargon or complex sentences that are hard to understand through your voice
  • Make the menu simple so that you don’t lose customers before they contact an agent

Take advantage of your IVR as a stepping stone in the customer journey and not as a stand-in for when your agents cannot be reached. It is more likely that users will become customers if their experience with your IVR is pleasant.

Provide Regular and Accurate Queue Updates

There is a limit to how long a caller can tolerate the same music played in an IVR. A modern IVR system can inform customers of their current position in the call queue, as well as the number of callers ahead. 

Providing assurance that they are still in line is the least that you can do if they do not request a callback. By sending text message notifications, you can confirm callbacks and remind callers of their upcoming appointments.

Callers should not be abandoned by IVR systems. As the customer waits for an agent, provide an estimated wait time (EWT).

Notify Customers That the Contact Center Is Closed After Hours

Upon contacting a company and selecting an agent, the customer is informed that the business is closed for the day. Customers do not want to experience this. 

IVR systems that are more than a decade old typically allow this to happen, and as a result, customers are less likely to call back during business hours.

Configure your IVR to inform callers that they have called after hours. Next, you may want to consider self-service options or the option to schedule a call back when agents are available.

Set a Maximum of Five Options for Your IVR Menu

It is important to resolve customer questions or problems promptly. Do not provide your customers with an IVR menu that is overly wordy and contains too many options. This may lead to customer dissatisfaction with your IVR and, eventually, with your agents.

Reduce the number of options on your IVR menu to five. Customers should be able to reach an agent easily. To ensure that your customers get in touch with the right agent the first time, IVRs should provide a simple, clear process for them.

Regularly Monitor and Manage IVR

Since there is a constant evolution in customer needs, similarly there needs to be a constant evolution in your IVR. 

You can always conduct an analysis of your IVR has been used in the past by customers. You can improve the user experience by monitoring the most popular menu options.

Is it possible to provide more robust self-service options to free up your team or call center to assist other customers? What are the most popular menu options (such as account balances, account information, etc.)? Do you notice that callers flit between menu options before asking an agent to speak with them?

Take a moment now and then to listen to the IVR as a customer would and honestly assess whether you would be satisfied with the navigation.

Identify the Right Metrics

You can measure an almost infinite number of key performance indicators (KPIs) and call center metrics. Yet you must pay particular attention to call center metrics that are indicative of quality. Among these metrics are:

  • First Contact Resolution (FCR)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Average Handling Time (AHT)
  • Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

Providing self-service to customers where appropriate can help to reduce call volumes and customer demand. However, it can also indicate that people are unable to communicate effectively with an IVR system when what they desire is a personal touch.

Read our latest post on the Top 6 IVR Service Providers in the Market and how you can Improve Customer Service Using Them here.

11 Best Practices for You

Cloud-hosted IVR comes with great customer service. The ability of businesses to deliver smooth customer service during their interactions with the company, mainly through telephone calls. And it is highly dependent on efficient automated menu systems. 

Although IVR is a component of unified communications, it is synonymous with customer experience. Nowadays, IT is all about providing efficient customer service methods, especially now that all the disadvantages of traditional communication methods are eliminated.

Consequently, customers do not have to wait long to obtain the information they need. Additionally, this provides flexibility for them to report complaints and reduces their on-call time.

However, customers have also complained about IVR services. One of the reasons is confusing menu options, as well as long wait times and delays connecting directly with an agent.

To provide a more comprehensive understanding, we have compiled a list of best practices of IVR.

Improving Menu Options

Customers who call centers are generally looking for assistance with information about products and services. It becomes a nuisance when callers have to navigate several menu options to reach the option they need. Long lists of menu choices can also be confusing. Thus, the more options available to the customer, the less interested they will be.

Customers can be guided to the desired section of the menu by mentioning the first set of options with broader categories. However, if there are more than three or four options on the menu, it is difficult to retain the caller. There are simple options available to businesses, such as:

  • Press 1 to inquire about new products, 
  • Press 2 to inquire about product maintenance

Direct Communication with the Agent

When the customer is confronted with a multitude of options, they become agitated when they are not able to accomplish their purpose. An overabundance of options may cause the customer to end the call mid-way. It will adversely affect your brand image. 

The best option to keep the customer on the phone is to offer the option to connect directly with a live agent at every level of the calling menu. There will be no need to confuse customers with a series of IVR menu choices. 

By entering a direct menu option like ‘Press 9’ they would not need to wait and can engage directly with the agent.

Reduce Waiting Time to a Few Seconds

It is expected that customers will receive a response to their inquiry within a short time. However, most of them become anxious when the waiting period exceeds a minute. Additionally, they may become irritated if they are constantly transferred from department to department.

The solution lies in a well-researched and well-designed call routing strategy. One may finalize the routing strategy after taking into account the average call time, the number of agents, the most common queries, etc.

Do Not Disconnect Customers’ Calls

Often, customers select the wrong menu option and the call is disconnected because the IVR system selected the wrong option. Avoid this mistake at all costs. 

If a customer selects the incorrect menu option, the IVR service provider should read the menu options again to the customer. Customers will feel respected and valued if this occurs.

Track the Call History of Your Customers

Whenever an agent resolves a complaint based on prior knowledge of the customer’s history, the situation is always positive. In most cases, however, several questions are required to verify the customer’s history. The customer cooperates until they believe the question is legitimate.

Nevertheless, they might become irritated, which would reflect poorly on the organization.

Make sure that you maintain a record or a database with information about past complaints, inquiries, or conversations with customers. This will streamline expectations and improve the customer journey in the future.

Provide Customers with the Opportunity to Select Their Preferred Language

An IVR service that caters to multinational companies’ customers from around the globe must support several languages. Failure to support several languages may result in losing customers.

Incorporate additional languages by identifying the state from which callers are originating and offer your customers the advantage of a second language in the IVR system. Ensure that the IVR service provider can accommodate all potential customers. Following this procedure will ensure superior customer service.

Don’t Overwhelm Your Customers with Your Brand

When there is a problem requiring attention, no one likes to listen to unnecessary information about an organization. A brand advertisement may only aggravate their impatience since they are usually in a hurry to get their question answered.

The introductory message should be brief and straightforward. Rather than repeating your brand tagline, you may want to let them know about any new plans or policies that have been introduced.

Ensure That Only Relevant Menu Options Are Provided

Oftentimes, customers become impatient with an IVR that presents all of their options. Also, they may not pay attention until the right option is presented. By making a simple change to the message, many customers can benefit.  

To illustrate,

Press 1 to inquire about new products

Press 2 for product maintenance inquiries

The customer hears “maintenance inquiries,” but does not hear which action is required (to press “2”). This may result in returning to the main menu.

The action should follow the option, so when the customer hears the word ‘maintenance’, their attention is immediately snapped back to ‘press 2’. You will save time and gain a new customer.

IVR Voice Messages That Are Crystal Clear

There are times when the IVR recordings are too slow or too fast, or if the accent is too complex for the listener to understand. This is neither desirable to your customer nor to you.

It is important to ensure that the IVR voices reflect the company’s brand image when recording them. IVR recordings should cover all aspects as well, including speed and accent. To ensure customer engagement, it’s crucial to strike a balance between all of these factors.

The Provision of Written Confirmations, Such As Sms or Email

Written confirmations provide the customer with the confidence that they can rely on the promises made by the company. Verbal confirmation is not enough and leaves the customer feeling somewhat uncertain. 

Following the call, a written confirmation in the form of an SMS or email should be sent to the customer. As a result, customers feel assured that their queries are being addressed and can wait calmly for the next step. Uncertainties are eliminated.

Announce ‘Call Recording’ Only When Appropriate

Although customers are aware that their conversations on the server are recorded for training purposes if they are constantly reminded they may feel harassed. This should only be done on occasion. The IVR may recite it while the customer is being transferred.

Conclusion 

Oftentimes in today’s world clients expect companies to provide them with the best service possible. Their expectations can only be met by businesses that are observant of minute details, and are continually amending and revising the services they provide. Additionally, due to the unique functionality and value of IVR service, much depends on its deployment.

Office24by7 is the best IVR service provider. We offer an intuitive, modern IVR solution that will ensure your customers receive a higher level of service when communicating with your organization. We can be reached at 91 7097171717 or at sales@office24by7.com.