In today’s ‘on-demand’ world, customers expect prompt and efficient service no matter which channel they choose to engage with a business. As contact centres manage high volumes of calls, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology has become an indispensable tool for handling customer queries quickly and efficiently.
IVR systems allow for automated call handling, managing high call volumes and reducing call wait times by giving customers fast access to the information they need. IVR technology can help improve the overall customer experience by streamlining caller interactions, benefiting your business by reducing contact centre costs.
In contrast, a poorly designed, over-complicated IVR system can lead to customer frustration, unresolved issues, and high abandonment rates. In this article, we will discuss why keeping your IVR system simple and user-friendly is the best approach for your contact centre, along with some practical tips on offering your customers a streamlined experience.
What is Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology?
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology is an automated phone system that interacts with callers through pre-recorded messages, text-to-speech and voice recognition software. An IVR can resolve simple customer inquiries without involving a live agent, or the system will route the caller to the correct department to handle more complex inquiries.
IVRs allow callers to input information or select from a menu of options using a touch-tone keypad or speech recognition technology. IVR technology has been around for decades and has been widely adopted across various industries, within their call centers.
Avoiding Complexity in Your IVR System: The Advantages of ‘Keeping It Simple’
While IVR technology can be a handy tool for contact centres, it can also be frustrating for customers if not implemented correctly. An overwhelming number of options, long-winded explanations, or confusing menus can contribute to a less-than-satisfactory experience.
A streamlined IVR system can support organisations to improve the overall customer experience, reduce costs, increase efficiency, shorten wait times, and provide valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences. By keeping your IVR system simple and user-friendly, your contact centre can deliver the best possible customer experience while staying ahead of the competition.
Here are some of the objectives your organisation can achieve through keeping your IVR technology simple:
Improved Customer Experience
Customers today expect quick and seamless service – and a complicated IVR system can lead to frustration and a negative customer experience. Ensuring your IVR system is simple to use and interact with will give your callers an optimal experience.
Customers who call your contact centre want to reach the right agent or department as quickly as possible. A straightforward IVR system that clearly defines the menu options and offers natural language recognition can improve customer experience and increase satisfaction.
Reduced Wait Times
Long wait times are a common complaint among customers when it comes to getting in touch with contact centre agents.
By facilitating automation – such as the IVR handling simple inquiries like providing store opening hours or enabling automatic payments – an IVR system can reduce the number of calls transferred to agents. This can help to minimise the overall wait times for customers, which in turn can increase customer satisfaction.
Improved Call Completion Rates
Customers may abandon calls if they get lost in a complex IVR system or don’t receive the information they need quickly.
A simple and intuitive IVR system can help customers navigate all options easily so they can access the information they require faster, which supports increasing call completion rates and reducing customer churn.
Better Understanding of Customer Needs
A well-designed IVR can provide more accurate data on the needs and behaviours of your customers.
When the IVR system is too complex, customers may be unable to effectively navigate the system, which can lead to incomplete data. This can make it more difficult for you to understand customer needs and improve service levels. Similarly, an IVR that needs to be built well can be complex to update and manage for users. It is recommended that an IVR audit as part of a contact centre review is completed every year to understand better the workflows in a client’s instance. Understanding which workflows are being used and which aren’t is the first step to creating better customer experiences and meeting their needs.
Ensuring you optimise your IVR workflows can result in cost savings for your business. A successful IVR system can help to minimise the number of calls that are transferred to call centre agents through automation of simple communications such as delivery times and store opening hours, which in turn can lead to higher team performance, with agents being able to focus on more complex queries.
By automating specific tasks, which can be achieved through integrating with your CRM, customers can resolve their inquiries, such as informing them of their account balance or understanding the estimated arrival date of their parcel. In doing so, callers will not require agent assistance which can enable 24/7 service while lowering call-handling costs.
A well-designed IVR system can help increase your contact center’s efficiency, enabling customers to self-serve quickly and leaving agents free to handle more complex or urgent issues.
Automating processes and integrating self-service enables contact centre agents to focus on higher-level customer interactions.
Improved Visibility into Reporting and Analytics
A simple IVR system can improve your visibility into contact centre reporting and draw outcomes from reporting and analytics. Tracking customer behaviour and preferences allows managers to gain valuable insights into why customers call.
This information can be used to identify behavioural trends and patterns, which can help you to understand your customers better and tailor services to meet their needs. Additionally, by tracking the effectiveness of the IVR system, your organisation can make data-driven decisions to improve the IVR workflows, allowing for a better customer experience.
Tips for Keeping Your IVR Simple
Clearly Define Menu Options
Ensure that your IVR system’s menu options are clearly defined and easy to understand. Avoid using industry jargon or technical terms that customers may not be familiar with; instead, use plain language and clearly describe each option. This will help customers navigate the system quickly and easily, reducing wait times and improving their experience.
Limit the Number of Options
While providing customers with all the necessary options is crucial, it’s equally important to avoid overwhelming them with too many choices. Limit the number of menu options to the most important ones, and avoid adding unnecessary details that can confuse customers.
Prioritise the Most Frequently
It is crucial to pay attention to which options customers select the most, and prioritise them in your IVR workflows. This will help customers receive the information they need quickly and easily. For example, if many customers call to check their account balance, ensure that this option is at the top of the menu.
Use Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP technology can make your IVR system even more user-friendly by allowing customers to use natural language to interact with the system. Customers can use their own words to ask questions or make requests rather than being limited to pre-defined menu options. NLP can improve the overall customer experience by making the IVR system more intuitive and reducing the need for customers to remember specific menu options.
Provide the Option to Speak to a Live Agent
Despite the best efforts to make your IVR system easy to use to achieve self-service, some customers will still prefer to speak to a live contact centre agent. Ensure that customers can talk to an agent at any point in the call. This will give callers the peace of mind of knowing they can speak to a person if needed, which can significantly improve their overall experience.
Test and Optimise Your IVR
Once your IVR is up and running, testing and optimising it regularly is essential. This means monitoring the system for common customer issues, such as long wait times or confusing menu options, and making adjustments. By periodically testing and optimising your IVR system, you can ensure that this contact centre tool continues to meet your customers’ needs. Conducting an IVR audit as part of a contact centre review is an excellent way to litmus test the experience of customers and ensure you are optimising your IVR workflows.
Benefits of Using IVR Technology in Your Contact Centre
The benefits of implementing an intuitive yet straightforward IVR system in your contact centre include everything from faster call resolution, decreased wait times, improved customer experiences and reduced contact centre costs.
However, the advantages of IVR software don’t end there. An advanced IVR system can enable you to enhance how you serve your customers and give your business a competitive edge.
Here are some of the other ways that an advanced IVR system can benefit your contact centre:
An IVR system can enable you to provide consistent service to customers, ensuring they receive the appropriate options and experience quality service every time they call. This can help build customer trust and confidence in your company, as customers know they can rely on the IVR system to obtain the accurate information they require.
IVR systems can operate 24/7, allowing customers to interact with your company outside of regular business hours through self-service. This functionality enables you to offer your customers round-the-clock support without needing to interact with call centre agents. Choose a cloud contact centre solution with robust integration capabilities to enable automation. ipSCAPE provides clients with pre-built CTI Adaptors for leading CRMs such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, Zendesk and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as a rich library of APIs.
In a globalised world, multilingual support is becoming increasingly important. IVR systems can be designed to support multiple languages, allowing companies to provide customer service in various languages. This can improve the customer experience for non-native speakers, as their needs are being catered to. ipSCAPE’s leverages Azure Cognitive Services to power multi-lingual Virtual agents to provide IVR experiences for customers in different regions.
Personalisation is fast becoming a customer service ‘must-have’ – and IVR software is no exception. Using integration technology such as a Web Services Connector, an Intelligent IVR can be created, providing personalised and customised responses. For example, imagine operating an e-commerce business, and a customer calls your customer service phone number. The Intelligent IVR can provide a human-like experience, i.e. “Hello (Customer Name), are you calling about your recent purchase order, which included a white indoor dining table and two beige ceramic table lamps?” – personalisation can improve the customer experience and make the Intelligent IVR feel more human-like. The IVR can also use customer information to prioritise calls and routes according to a critical variable, such as those marked as VIPs.
IVR systems can be used beyond basic call routing and self-service. For example, an IVR system can include a workflow containing a post-call survey to collect feedback and understand satisfaction through capturing CSAT scores. By leveraging the power of IVR technology, organisations can gather invaluable customer insights that can be used to improve customer service processes.
Achieve Interoperability with Multiple Systems
IVR systems can be integrated with other systems to provide a seamless customer experience. For example, IVR software can be combined with a CRM platform to provide agents with relevant customer information before answering incoming calls. This can improve the efficiency of contact centre processes and eliminate the need for customers to repeat information multiple times. IVR systems can also be integrated with chatbots or other AI-powered systems to provide customers with a more comprehensive self-service experience. Thus, interoperability with various systems can be achieved through the IVR, which can help streamline the customer experience.
Continuous Improvement through Conducting Data Analysis
IVR systems should be continually monitored and analysed to identify areas of improvement. Data analysis can reveal patterns in customer behaviour, such as which options are selected most frequently or which prompts cause the most confusion. This information can be used to refine the IVR system and make it more effective at meeting customer needs.
ipSCAPE recently helped a multi-brand client reduce their IVR workflows to create a better customer experience while making it easier to update and maintain.
IVR technology can be a powerful tool for companies looking to improve customer service, reduce costs, and increase efficiency in their contact centres. By providing self-service options, customers can quickly receive the information they need and resolve their inquiries without waiting for a live agent. This, in turn, helps manage high call volumes, reduces call waiting times, increases call resolutions and thus, improves customer satisfaction levels.
However, it’s vital to keep your IVR system simple and easy to use to avoid frustrating customers, negatively impacting the overall experience, and reducing the efficiency of your contact centre. By implementing a straightforward, intuitive and user-friendly IVR system, you can leverage this technology’s many benefits and boost your contact center’s performance.
If you want to discover how ipSCAPE can help optimise your contact centre with our advanced Interactive Voice Response technology, contact us today.
ipSCAPE is a cloud communication technology that is feature-rich, scalable, and has advanced integration capabilities. We help businesses connect with their customers through multi-channel communications, including Voice, Web Chat, Email, SMS, IVR and other emerging channels.