Customer Communications

Is Your IVR Outdated? How to Transition from Traditional to NextGen IVR in These Quick 11 Steps (Part One)

By Chris Crombie 13 August 2019

Welcome to the first of a 2-part series of blogs, where we’re going to discuss the initial steps you and your organisation need to take towards adopting NextGen IVR so that you can exceed customer expectations across every channel.

Interactive voice response technology (IVR) has long been a tool in the customer experience (CX) arsenal. But in an era of rising expectations – in terms of service quality and speed – traditional approaches and solutions are no longer enough.

Research has shown that 83% of customers will avoid a business after a negative IVR experience. So while first-generation IVRs have been unable to deliver a truly effortless experience, the latest generation of NextGen IVR systems are a game changer for the customer experience.

So, if you decide that it is time to upgrade to a next-generation NextGen IVR, where should you start? Here are a few quick steps that we recommend, to help you transition to a new NextGen IVR from your current system:

1. Conduct an audit of your current IVR system

The best place to start is to take a close look at your existing IVR system. This will give you a good picture about what’s working, what’s not working, and what your next system will need to fix to improve performance and the customer experience. This might require hiring external experts, who can conduct a comprehensive audit of your current IVR, including its usage and call volumes, its menu structure, and its terminology and prompting. A proper audit will surface problems that are causing call frustration, such as confusing menus, bad speech recognition and unclear messages, that will help to steer your approach to IVR going forward.

2. Examine your IVR statistics

By examining both your IVR statistics, and the related routing statistics, you can often surface a lot of insight into the customer experience. For instance, you might discover that there are long waiting times, which would explain why you also have high call abandon rates. Elsewhere, you may find that you have a lot of customers that call back repeatedly, indicative of callers not resolving their query. And discovering a statistic such as high internal transfer rates, could be indicative of misrouting issues. The important thing to note here is that some of these issues can be resolved without having to completely overhaul your IVR system, so do the groundwork by looking at your IVR stats so that you can isolate your main problems first.

3. Speak to your contact centre agents

Your frontline team spends more time speaking to your customers than anyone else in your organisation, so know them best of all. As a result of these interactions, they will have valuable insights into their experiences of the IVR – information that can be used to drive improvements in your existing system and that can be used to guide the implementation of your next IVR.

4. Speak to your customers

Most important of all is to reach out to your customers to ensure you have a clear understanding of why they want to contact you, how they want to contact you, and what their current experiences are of contacting you. Conversations with customers are particularly useful when transitioning to a conversational IVR as it’s a great way to surface the common questions that they are calling you about, which can then be used to train your AI-powered IVR in the natural language understanding, to help customers solve their issues in an automated fashion in future.

5. Conduct requirements gathering

Having done all this research will provide you with a good understanding of your IVR requirements going forward. This means you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of selecting the perfect solution for your needs.

Consider who is going to take responsibility for the requirements gathering – is it a single individual or a project team – and then focus on the following when building a detailed requirements list:

  • Business challenges. What are the challenges that you want to address? Once you have a list of challenges, the vendors you speak to will be able to recommend the best solution for your needs and budget.
  • Business objectives. The main consideration for an organisation should be its business objectives. For example, it could be that the business wants to cut waiting times by 20%. The question should then be posed – how are you, as a vendor, going to help me increase my sales by 50%?
  • Functional requirements. What are the core capabilities you desire?
  • Company culture can be an obstacle to successful role-outs, so organisations should ensure their chosen partner is there to help drive understanding across the business and help communicate the benefits of the technology and immediate improvements it will bring to people’s roles.

Customers want effortless service experiences. Why not provide a better experience by upgrading your IVR so that integrates with other communication channels?

At the end of the day, the customer is still king, and the age of multi-channel 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.

Want to find out more about CX and NextGen IVR? Read part two of the series here

See other posts by Chris Crombie

Senior Product Owner

As a Senior Product Owner, Chris is responsible for ensuring the business identifies and understands customer needs and priorities. He defines the road-map and growth opportunities for Voice and Synapse, overseeing implementations whilst keeping all developments in line with the product vision. With over 15 years’ experience working within the customer engagement space, Chris is perfectly placed to consult and design innovative services for our customers.

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