Contact Centers: Four Best Practices to Improve Interactive Voice Response
More than 25 percent of companies using interactive voice response (IVR) in their call centers said increasing customer acceptance and usage of the system is the biggest challenge to using IVR, according to a recent benchmarking study by The Ascent Group, a customer service operations consultancy. In the same study, The Ascent Group established a set of strategies used by companies that are achieving a high customer satisfaction rate and high IVR use. Some of these best practices are:
1. Conduct extensive consumer research before making changes to your call center. Companies that use IVR successfully employ customer focus groups, usability labs or customer surveys to establish consumer expectations and demand for IVR services, The Ascent Group officials write. And don’t test IVR once. Every time a change to the IVR menu or script enhancement is implemented, test how your customers will respond.
2. Make the IVR system easy to navigate. Whether they use the voice recognition capabilities or their touch-tone phones, your customers need to be able to easily move within the system. The Ascent Group found that successful IVR implementations used short menus of five options or less to make it easier for customers to remember the options. Plain language also should be used to make the options perfectly clear to all customers.
3. Offer control to the caller. Make it simple for customers to move forward and backward through the IVR system menu, cancel transactions or otherwise achieve their goals within the system. Provide a way to quickly and easily get out of the system, the study’s authors write. Customers should have the ability to choose between using automation or talking to live human beings.
4. Measure and track IVR performance. The success of an IVR system can be measured through performance monitoring, stress testing and customer satisfaction ratings. Using multiple performance measures allows companies to determine operational efficiencies as well as areas that can be improved.