You know you can cut contact center costs by using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), but many companies do so with the knowledge that they might negatively impact customer approval. While a live agent is generally preferred by customers, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve the customer experience when they call into your IVR and boost satisfaction rates.
It’s worth acknowledging that, while many companies might try to sell IVR to customers as a way to improve service, customers know the reality. It’s a competitive market out there, and you need to use IVR to keep your costs down so you can keep up with customer questions and requests. It may be a lost cause to try to communicate how IVR will improve all aspects of a customer’s experience, but there may be a few benefits you can point out:
- Shorter wait times: When using IVR, it’s easy to work through calls more quickly, particularly those with routine requests, such as obtaining an order status or making a payment.
- Anytime service: While agents take vacations and go home when their shift is over, IVR is always available, so customers can access information any hour of the day.
- Complex calls are prioritized: When your customer has a complex question, they’ll be assisted by an agent who’s not rushed to get back to other calls.
Even with these benefits, there are a few pitfalls that can reduce the effectiveness of IVR and even cause a loyal customer to shop your competitors. Here are some ways to improve the customer experience through IVR:
Conduct a Survey: Check in with your customers after you begin using IVR to handle their calls. Find out what their perception was of its efficiency, effectiveness, and whether they’ll use this format to contact your company again.
It’s important that you’re willing to hear the results of the survey. You may hear criticism of your decision to use IVR or get feedback from customers that were frustrated with having to navigate a menu that was complicated or didn’t take them to the department they needed.
Be proactive about communicating with customers about the survey results. If you receive some negative feedback, address the concerns and let customers know you will be using the results to improve their experience with your contact center.
Create a Clear Menu: Make sure customers are offered their options in clear language that’s presented consistently. For instance, determine whether you’ll use a phrase that includes a verb, such as “to make a payment, press one. To speak to someone in sales, press two,” versus using a simple badge-style designation, such as “For Billing, press one. For sales, press two.”
Determine Paths for Calls: Test your system extensively to see where customers will end up, and how many buttons it requires to get there. Make sure someone wanting to make a payment through your IVR isn’t working through four or five different menus to arrive at accounts receivable.
Present the Most Commonly-Chosen Option First: If 75% of your calls are for placing orders, then make sure “To place an order” is assigned to “press one.” This seems simple, but because it will impact your metrics for call resolution time, you’ll want to ensure callers quickly arrive at their destination.
Have Trained Professionals Ready: Your IVR should always improve the customer experience by giving callers a parachute. As you get further into the interaction, you might have a prompt for them to choose to speak to a representative. Don’t worry that this will eliminate the need for your IVR because if your IVR is effective, they’ll generally prefer to stick with the automated system.
For situations where there’s a more complex issue, you’ll still want to be sure you have a skilled agent ready to assist the caller. Because IVR is allowing you to significantly cut costs, don’t skimp on the number of agents you have available at any given time to assist customers.
While your main focus is your ability to improve the customer experience while they’re utilizing IVR, it’s also worth noting that your contact agent’s experience is also likely to improve. In a position known for a high turnover rate, pushing the routine calls over to IVR can boost contact agent satisfaction and improve your employee retention.
No contact agent wants to be stuck in a cycle of mundane calls, answering simple questions about account balances or the status of an order. When contact center agents are trained to be skilled at handling complex customer issues, their job satisfaction improves and they are more engaged with their responsibilities.
For more information about IVR or for more tips to improve the customer experience, contact us at TelcoAlert. We can help you ensure your customer satisfaction levels remain high as you transition to an automated contact center solution.