Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can have a huge, positive impact on customer satisfaction, employee engagement and profitability. However, it often gets a bad rep from customers who’ve been stuck in endless, automated loops.
Why: companies are making mistakes with how they use the solution.
In this article, I’ll cover the 5 most common mistakes businesses make with their traditional IVR solutions, so you can reap the many benefits without the risk.
Mistake 1: Not using data effectively
Software is only as good as the data you give it. IVR solutions use data to deliver personalised experiences and predict what customers need. But they can only do that if all your channels are connected and feed off each other.
If your systems are disparate and your customer data isn’t joined up, then your IVR system won’t be able to deliver the personalised experiences that delight and make you stand out.
Mistake 2: Not considering the importance of real-time communication
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of a customer’s relationship with a brand will occur without human-to-human interaction. This means that real-time, automated communication is more important than ever.
You therefore need to make sure your IVR is integrated with all other channels and systems that monitor and trigger real-time communications. That way, each call takes into account the customer’s previous interactions on other channels, reducing frustration and waiting times, and streamlining issue resolution.
Mistake 3: Offering too many menu options
As a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than phoning a company with an important question, only to be stuck listening as an automatic system reels off 20 different menu and sub-menu options.
It’s important to use IVR to route customers to the right department, but getting too granular will aggravate and confuse. Incorporate the latest natural language processing (NLP) capabilities so you have effective voice recognition. That way your customers can have an experience they now expect when they phone through to your IVR – they can talk to the virtual assistant the same way they would Siri or Alexa, and be understood first time.
Mistake 4: Using irritating or inappropriate hold music
Nobody likes to be kept waiting, so don’t make queue experiences worse by subjecting people to poor-quality hold music.
Similarly, while sales-through-service can yield good results, playing a marketing message about your latest product when someone’s phoning about a malfunctioning existing product isn’t likely to win you many friends. Stick to something cheery but inoffensive so that long waits don’t become agonising.
Even better, use that time on hold to have the virtual assistant get any required information, so the call can be dealt with more quickly. Or be proactive in offering to call customers back when they’re first in the queue, so they don’t have to wait on hold.
Mistake 5: Making it too difficult to speak to a person
Offering self-serve options is important – 73% of customers want to self-serve, after all. But there are times when even the best IVR system and automated messages won’t cut it.
If a customer phones up with a complex query (or can’t or doesn’t want to use self-serve options), it needs to be easy to bypass the IVR system and speak to a real person quickly.
At the end of the day, the customer is still king, and the age of omnichannel communication is all about giving them control over how they communicate with your business. IVR is just one – albeit important – part of how you empower them. And when updated correctly using technological developments, it’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal.