7 Ways to Make Interactive Voice Response (IVR) More Customer Friendly

7 Ways to Make your IVR More Customer-Friendly

An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is your first line of defense for customer support and call routing. 

A Zendesk study showed that more than 50% of customers across all age groups prefer telephone support making it the most-used channel for customer service. 

As customers become more self-reliant they prefer self-help features via an IVR system. This technology can answer more customer questions over the phone so they won’t need to connect with an agent. This article covers the top seven ways to make your company’s IVR setup more customer-friendly.

1 – Personalize The Customer Experience

One of the most frustrating things for customers is having to repeat information. Make sure the IVR setup collects enough customer information before an agent answers. That way, the customer won’t need to explain their request again. 

Using an IVR phone system to personalize the customer experience helps strengthen customer relationships. For example, greet the customer by name; if they speak a different language, respond in that language; and if they live in a specific city, provide them with a local phone number. These simple things let the customer know you care. 

2 – Your IVR Setup Should Make Menu Options Easy to Use

Too many menu options in the IVR phone system prolong the call and confuse customers. Keep routing options simple. Provide callers with no more than 3-5 broad main menu options that reflect the most frequently asked questions. As the call progresses, the categories can be further subdivided into multiple branches. Lastly, present the most popular IVR menu options first. 

Another thing to consider is the wording for each prompt. The best practice is to place IVR menu options before action. In other words, it’s easier for a customer to remember “For sales, press 1.” vs. “Press 1 for sales.” 

You can also improve IVR menus by prioritizing self-service options. For example, if the IVR is intended to speed up and automate bill payment, customers must be able to pay their bills by pressing 1 on their phone keypads.

3 – Adopt a Conversational IVR Setup

For a more intuitive IVR phone experience, consider using what is known as conversational IVR. This advanced technology is hands-free, voice-driven customer assistance that leverages Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the content and context of spoken requests. It saves customers the frustration they normally face navigating through slow, complex multi-level IVR.

Conversational interactive vice response systems outshine traditional IVR setups. Traditional systems provide limited status options for the caller. A conversational IVR setup provides more options by having a “conversation” with the user to find the correct department. IVR technology allows customers to respond to open-ended questions such as “How can I help you?” By having a conversation with the user, the IVR can route calls to the right department or self-service option.

When setting up a conversational IVR, start with a list of frequently asked questions. These questions are the foundation of conversational AI. They help you define your customer’s primary concerns.

From here, you’ll need to teach the AI the ways that a user may phrase or ask for this type of information. Example phrases include: 

  • “How to access my account”
  • “How to log in”
  •  “How to reset password”
  • “Sign up for an account”

Consult your analytics and support teams if you’re not sure what other phrases your customers might use. Analytics teams can mine web data and investigate other queries from site search data. If your analytical teams don’t handle this type of analysis, your customer service representatives can provide valuable insight into how customers commonly phrase their questions. 

Each customer call teaches the system new information. The system refines that information over time to ensure accuracy.

4 – Implement a Visual IVR Setup

According to a recent Gartner poll, more than 65% of clients aged 18-44 use mobile technology for customer support more than once per month. A visual IVR transforms standard IVR prompts and options into an easy-to-use web page interface customers access from their mobile device. 

A visual IVR setup reduces wait times. With visual IVR; the customer controls the pace of and enters information at their leisure. Once the customer has entered their information, an agent calls them to handle their request. 

Providing a visual IVR increases safety. Not every customer interaction with a company occurs at home. A customer may not want to speak their sensitive information into an IVR in public. With a visual menu, customers can quickly and securely enter their data. 

5 – Always Provide Customers With a Live Agent Option

Incoming callers may prefer to speak with an agent rather than navigate the self-service menu options. It frustrates customers when they want to speak to someone but can’t find the correct option. Give the customer a menu option to speak to an agent. When speech recognition software hears the words “Representative” or “Operator,” it should transfer the call to an agent. 

6 – Your IVR Setup Should Respect Customers’ Time

A Zendesk study showed that nearly 60% of customers felt that long hold and wait times are the most frustrating parts of phone support. Give customers an estimated wait time upfront. This is critical because it shows you respect them. 

Another option to help save time for a customer is to offer callers a callback when the estimated wait time exceeds two minutes. A callback option lets customers keep their position in a virtual call queue and the agent will call them back when it is their turn. Some IVR setups also allow the caller to select a callback time that’s convenient for them. Callback call queues help improve the customer experience and lower the contact center’s call abandonment rate.

7 – Measure and Manage Your IVR Setup Regularly

Your IVR setup is always a work in progress. As your customer’s needs change, adjust the IVR system to meet those needs. Let your customers guide what improvements you need to make. Collect customer feedback regularly. An IVR blaster lets you send a survey to your customers to request feedback. The system records responses so you can analyze the data and optimize your call center strategy.  

Build Customer-Friendly IVR Setup With Ozonetel Call Center Software

Customers’ expectations are rising, but many businesses are slow to react to modernizing their IVR deployments. Improvements such as analyzing caller intent or sentiment, and conversational capabilities, are still in their early stages. However, companies that rely on customer experience as a differentiator should not wait. A properly designed IVR system should support your customer service strategy. Creating and implementing a modern, intuitive IVR with a clear, natural flow will ensure that your callers have the best experience possible when interacting with your company. 

Ozonetel packs all the tools you could ever need to improve service levels within an affordable, easy to integrate, quick to set up call center solution. Contact us to get started.

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