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How to create
a seamless IVR solution

By Dan Vanrenen | March 2021

What is interactive voice response, or IVR?

By definition, it is a technology that allows humans to interact with a computer-operated phone system. Essentially, they are the (sometimes helpful, sometimes not so helpful) robots we initially speak to when calling an organisation on the phone.

For businesses looking to support their customers, IVR can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, there is an appetite from customers to seek out answers on their own, and an effective self-service solution will allow them to do so with minimised or no support, depending on the type of IVR you’re offering:

73% of customers want to solve service issues on their own  
50% of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves 

On the other hand, however, confusing, long winded and hard to navigate IVR systems can actually be damaging to a company’s customer service efforts:  

67% of customers hang up the phone in frustration when they cannot reach an agent
92% of customers have experienced problems using self-service tools
83% will avoid a company after a negative experience

The different types of IVR

Here lies the importance of exploring the different types of IVRs available to implement the systems that best suit the needs of your customers.

IVRs may either allow you to select a number of options to move through a menu, or verbalise your account information to be directed to the correct place. They can be entirely audio-based, or have visual aids to help guide users through the process.

Here are just some examples of IVR systems:

IVR for self-service: Can resolve queries in an automated fashion without the need for support agents. Their key benefit is allowing businesses to service high call volumes at a lower cost, and immediately catering to the needs of customers.
Agent-assisted IVR: Allows an agent to select which pre-recorded phrases are provided to a customer, without a customer knowing an agent is involved. Menu options can be cut out or added in depending on the individual needs of customers, ensuring customer service delivery is consistent for each different interaction.
Visual IVR: Uses visual supports in tandem with the audio IVR to help simplify the process for customers. The IVR can offer to send a text with a link that lets the customer use a visual experience. See our example of how visual IVR might work in practice.

Here are just some examples of IVR systems:

IVR for self-service: Can resolve queries in an automated fashion without the need for support agents. Their key benefit is allowing businesses to service high call volumes at a lower cost, and immediately catering to the needs of customers.
Agent-assisted IVR: Allows an agent to select which pre-recorded phrases are provided to a customer, without a customer knowing an agent is involved. Menu options can be cut out or added in depending on the individual needs of customers, ensuring customer service delivery is consistent for each different interaction.
Visual IVR: Uses visual supports in tandem with the audio IVR to help simplify the process for customers. The IVR can offer to send a text with a link that lets the customer use a visual experience. See our example of how visual IVR might work in practice.

The importance of IVR

Indeed, getting IVR right is a challenge. But that does not mean its benefits should be ignored, nor should it be eliminated from your omnichannel customer service strategy.

Not only does IVR allow customers to accomplish simple and straightforward tasks independently, these systems also account for 73% of all contact centre traffic.

The cost savings are equally stark. Data from Forrester shows that IVR is roughly 36 times cheaper per customer service interaction than call centre agents.

If implemented, mapped and monitored correctly, the detriments of IVR can be dodged and the rewards reaped. Here are four tips from our Best of Breed Customer Service white paper for implementing a seamless IVR solution:

Find out what your customers need. Why might a customer be calling you? It might sound obvious, but without the right answers to this question your IVR system may be more of a hinderance than a helping hand.  
Keep menu options to a minimum. A laborious maze of seemingly never-ending questions and different menus to navigate will undermine the entire success of your IVR. Make the process as concise and quick as possible and avoid overwhelming your customers.  
Let customers speak to a real person. Customers will often want to speak to a real person when they contact you. Giving them the option to speak to an agent from the outset will reduce their frustrations and provide them with the answers they need on their terms.  
Review calls and seek feedback. Can you further optimise your IVR call routing to save customers time while still providing the right information? Introduce surveys to obtain feedback and regularly analyse your call data.  

Remember – IVR systems should never be finished products. There are always opportunities to revise your routing, optimise the process and make improvements.

Listen to your customers and ask them for feedback. Are the scripts short and sharp? Are your voice technologies 100% effective? Do you provide direct routes to speak to an advisor, or offer a call back service so customers don’t have to wait in queues? Would they use a visual experience aid?

Complacency with IVR risks systems become outdated, eventually leading to a shift from positive to negative customer experiences. There are opportunities aplenty, but only if you remain proactive.

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Adopting omnichannel customer
service: The technologies and
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In this e-book, we cover basic to advanced topics about
how to create a best of breed customer satisfaction
team, as well as how to evaluate opportunities within
your organization for ongoing optimization.

This e-book is essential for anyone involved in an
organization’s customer engagement team or
Center of Excellence setup.

Latest Ebook

How to create a best of breed
Customer Satisfaction

In this e-book, we cover basic to advanced topics about how to create a best of breed customer satisfaction team, as well as how to evaluate opportunities within your organization for ongoing optimization.

This e-book is essential for anyone involved in an organization’s customer engagement team or Center of Excellence setup.

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