An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated telephone system that helps route callers to the most appropriate department or person within your company. When you hear “Press 1 for sales, 2 for support or 3 for general inquiries”, you’ve reached a company’s IVR system.
There are many benefits to having an IVR system to take and filter your customer calls. You can create personalized and professional phone greetings and prompts to give customers a great first impression of your business. You can also make sure that they’re routed to the person in your company who will be most qualified to help them, you can better manage a high volume of calls without diminishing your customer service and provide more first-time resolutions for your callers.
Still, even with all these benefits to your business, customers are usually not thrilled to be greeted by an automated phone system. Most of us would rather be greeted by a human being so we can just ask our question and get the answer immediately without having to work through a frustrating series of prompts. IVRs can save your company money, but it’s focus should still always be to provide the best level of customer service possible to your callers and helping them get the information they need. If it’s not, you could be in trouble.
Keep it short and simple.
No one wants to sit through a lengthy introduction before they can make a selection. They just want to get the information they called for. By filling your prompts with promotional information, your company’s history, website or other marketing materials, customers will think you are wasting their time. Keep it short, clear and concise.
IVR should sound as human as possible.
The closer your phone prompts sound to a real-live person, the better the customer experience. That’s where professional voice recordings can make a big difference. Your phone prompts should be friendly, informative, natural and conversational.
Give callers an option to skip ahead.
The less time they must sit there listening to your phone prompts, the better their experience will be. Make sure there are options in your IVR for callers to skip ahead and make their choice, before having to listen to the entire menu of options.
If collecting information, make sure the person helping them gets it too.
If you are collecting information from your callers through the phone prompt system, make sure the agent that is helping them is getting that information too. Nothing is more frustrating than having to repeat the information they just entered into an IVR when they finally get a human on the line.
Give callers the option to speak to an operator.
If your IVR system is designed properly, callers should be able to navigate through the system easily and efficiently to get the information they need without having to speak to a live agent. Unfortunately, not every call can be fully serviced by an automated phone system and sometimes a situation arises when a user requires human intervention. That is why you should give users a quick way to an operator, so they can discuss their issue with a live person.
Monitor, review the customer experience and update your IVR.
Never ‘set and forget’ your automated phone system. Make sure you are always updating your staff lists and extension numbers. Otherwise, you can confuse callers and lead them to the wrong person. You should also be reviewing your calls, reporting on call purposes, hang-ups, resolutions and customer satisfaction. By monitoring the customer’s experience, you can tweak and update your IVR messaging to give them the best possible experience.
Remember that the main purpose of your automated phone system is to manage a high volume of calls while effectively getting your customers to the information or person they need. If your IVR is focussed on the customer, you will increase customer satisfaction and that can improve your bottom line.
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The average hold time is 38 seconds.