For this blog we will consider an IVR a system that at the very least enables you to decide as a business which employee group your customers will speak with. For example, if you are a bank, a different group of employees may be trained on general account information vs. credit card inquires.
Onto our assessment:
- Enables customers to do their own transactions without having to talk with someone (applies to organizations that have this capability, a more expensive investment). This is a substantial advantage for two reasons: 1- Customers who enjoy self serve can be serviced on their terms (e.g. banking) and assuming the set up is smart, quite easily. 2 – For the organization, having a customer served in the IVR instead of a live person is far less expensive.
- Ensures customers, if they speak with a person, talk to someone who can answer their questions. Why? Because an IVR may send you to a different person based on your menu choice, as mentioned above. This is especially important for larger organizations who choose to have employees be experts in certain areas of the business (e.g. Telco – cable, wireless, internet)
- Speed. For IVR’s that can provide you with information and make it easy to find, they become the most effective tool at telling us what we need to know fast. For example, if you want to obtain your account balance for your bank account, the fastest way to get it is through the IVR.
- Great information source if the call centre is busy or experiencing an outage. For example, when call centres have too many calls in queue, the IVR can tell us if we can expect a long wait. This gives us a CHOICE on what to do – wait, call back later or use another channel.
- Speech. As we’ve already said, we have not seen consistently good use of this technology and therefore are not confident it can be an advantage today. This technology will continue to evolve and improve and we look forward to seeing how. For now, it makes it more difficult to navigate an IVR and speak with the right live person.
- Complicated menu levels and choices. Too many organizations are making it easy to get lost in the IVR. As a result, customers get frustrated and either try to zero out or hang up. Keep navigation simple – limit menu choices and options and offer a zero out option PROACTIVELY.
- The use of multiple voices. This is another common practice we see. Different voices, professional or amateur being used in various parts of the IVR. Decide on one voice and use throughout. You will deliver a more consistent experience and better promote your brand.
- Poor management as an information source. Avoid misleading your customers. If the wait time is excessive use language that makes it clear. Also promote channel alternatives (web, email, etc.) and avoid excessive advertising and poor on hold music. Sirius radio is a great alternative.
We believe, IF USED EFFECTIVELY, an IVR is a smart investment and an important tool in delivering a more complete customer experience. It offers customers increased choice while improving organizational efficiency. Just be mindful of the problems that can occur if it isn’t deployed and maintained intelligently.
Good read in the Toronto Star today on this topic - Have a read here: Article
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