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Interactive Voice Response (IVR) has completely changed the way that customer calls can be handled.

IVR can be especially helpful in processes involving managing incoming calls, routing calls and helping with customer care. In theory, an IVR system will improve the quality of your customer support; however, it can be easy to get things wrong. We take a look at some of the most common IVR system mistakes made and how you can avoid them in your call centre. 

IVR call centre

Too many options

If a customer is looking for an immediate answer to a query, being presented with a long list of options may make them abandon the call, or immediately choose to speak with a live agent, thus eliminating the point of having an IVR system. More than five options are too many for a push button menu as people may forget – if you have more than five options, perhaps consider using speech recognition instead. Cut out menu options that lead to the same place, as it is better to just have one option that would encompass all of those points.

Repetitive hold messages

Listening to the same message over and over tends to drive callers mad and leads to calls being hung up. There should be at least three variations of a call on-hold message played throughout the call.

No request call back option

Not all calls will be able to be sufficiently dealt with using an IVR system, so the option to get to a person or at least request a call back must be available.

Not prioritising the right options

Based on the calls your centre receives, it should be quite clear what the most common reasons for a customer call are. These topics should, therefore, be the priority when it comes to the order of your given options. The most common reason for calling should obviously be prioritised as number one on the list, making it easier for more customers to quickly proceed with their call without having to listen through every option.

Not reassuring customer

Many customers will have little trust in a machine putting them through to the right person. Ensure your customer is aware that their call or query is being dealt with by providing verbal confirmation in the call message, or by getting in touch via email or text to confirm that their interaction is being processed.

As part of this, you can also update customers on their position in the queue, as this can help them to estimate their wait time and weigh up whether it is worth staying on the line or trying again later. Not being able to work out how long you will have to wait can be frustrating, so giving the customer this power allows them control over whether they want the call to proceed or not at that point.

Not making use of previous interactions

Customers will be calling a contact centre for a variety of reasons, from checking on order progress to submitting a complaint. It, therefore, makes little sense to have all types of customer presented with the same welcome messages or options. Using data from prior interactions with each customer, the IVR menus can provide more of a personalised experience, making each customer interaction more relevant.

Not providing an exit

When inputting a number or trying to select an option through speech recognition, saying or pressing the wrong thing may send you to the wrong place. If an exit route isn’t in place, allowing customers to backtrack if an option is selected in error, this can be very frustrating for a customer, who will have to wait to speak to someone who may not be able to help them, or hang up and try again.

Inappropriate hold messages

One of the biggest mistakes a call centre can make is to use bad or boring on-hold music or to play inappropriate adverts throughout the hold process. For example, if a customer is calling to make a complaint about your service, they will probably be annoyed to hear an advert for that same or similar service!

Ensuring good sound quality

It is imperative that the options and messages provided during the call are clear for your customer. Recorded voice messages shouldn’t be too fast or too slow so that customers do not become distracted, bored or confused by the instructions or options given. The voice should be clear and consistent in volume throughout, using a tone that is neither too formal nor too friendly.

While ensuring that all of these common mistakes are avoided is one way to improve your call centre, you could also consider switching to Natural Language IVR systems, which make the conversation appear more real, making customers feel happier that their queries are being dealt with.

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