We see this all the time, as you can probably guess by our company’s name. Most people have never even heard of an IVR until the day they realize they need one. Some know what it is but tend not to think of it until they need a better one. Interactive Voice Response systems can and will transform your business. The trouble is, will the transformation be for the better or worse. We’re here to help, as we know you’re likely in one of two future customer silos.
Your Current IVR Sucks
This first silo is the most common. Your rudimentary IVR, or another call routing solution is woefully inadequate. Customers are waiting on hold too long. Your customer service reps are pulling data from multiple sources. Or they’re now working from home on a laptop instead of at the office with two big monitors.
You Just Googled, “What Is An IVR?”
We’re going to assume your search already answered that question. If it didn’t, our primer on IVR systems is an excellent place to start. Go ahead and take 5 minutes to read that, then come back. We’ll still be here.
Nothing is more daunting than accepting the task of selecting new technology for your business. And if this is your first exposure to the idea of an IVR for your business, well, it can feel terrifying. But the feeling will be temporary. It’s not rocket science; it’s customer service.
It’s Full Of Stars!
Like David Bowman of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” searching for IVR vendors on software review sites can be like entering the obelisk stargate. One such website lists well over 200 vendors from large international corporations to small regional resellers.
Interactive Voice Response solutions have existed for nearly 40 years in various forms and capabilities. A few modern systems include voice recognition and artificial intelligence, while others remain basic rudimentary menus. As you select your vendor, it’s essential to gauge your current needs and growth expectations.
Important Considerations For Selecting An IVR System
Let’s look at the essential questions you should be asking as you review your future partner for delivering an excellent experience for your callers.
Today’s customers and callers are a different “breed” than just a few years ago. The immediate gratification of online commerce and digital services has fostered an expectation of instant service across all channels. Your new IVR system should be capable of more than simple call routing.
- A recent survey from Wakefield Research revealed the top complaints callers had about the IVR systems they encounter:
- The reason they’re calling isn’t in the first menu options.
- They tell me the menu might have changed, but it never does.
- They have to repeat themselves after being transferred.
- They are often overwhelmed by too many menu options.
- Can’t “zero out” to an agent when they want to.
- It takes too long to get a resolution.
- The system doesn’t have the information to solve their problem.
- The system is designed to help the company, not the customer.
- Menu options are too wordy and complicated.
Modern systems can be programmed to handle a wide range of customer questions that provide swift answers without involving an agent.
As you can easily surmise, integration with your systems is critical to automate common caller questions. While the cost of a more advanced IVR might seem high, the long-term savings will be substantial. Allowing callers to gain access to account information, features, and common questions will eliminate much of those time-consuming efforts for your agents. And your agents’ jobs will be much easier and more efficient when a smart IVR delivers screen-pops of caller details.
While you might not need more advanced features like multi-lingual support, chatbots, payments, and text messaging right now, you probably will in the future. Make sure the IVR system you select is flexible enough to grow with you and your business.
For example, a consumer finance client of ours was humming along reasonably well with an IVR system from a well-known provider. When they acquired a new financial product to attract a new category of customers, they ran into issues. The system couldn’t easily support the unique needs of their new customers. Lack of flexibility resulted in an unexpected expense.
Your new IVR system must be easy for callers to navigate. Make sure prompts can be short, concise, and clear. Avoid meaningless notifications, such as, “make sure you listen to the entire message…” It’s one of the top caller complaints. You should be able to design the initial navigation as if you were using the system yourself, and had to get your answer quickly.
“If you know your selection, you can enter it at any time.” That prompt is one of the best navigation aids you can do for your regular callers.
Picking a cloud-based system is practically a no-brainer. It ensures portability and easy integration with your telecommunications. And more importantly, it eliminates one more system management burden from your IT staff.
Ease of Modification
What happens when you have a product recall, service outage, or other critical events? Can you rapidly add the new notification to your opening prompts? There are countless reasons you may need to notify callers of something important. Make sure the IVR system you select supports your ability to make changes easily. A “drag-and-drop” visual IVR designer is almost a “must-have” for a business that needs to change messaging
Try Before Buy?
The right IVR can be a CX game-changer. The wrong IVR can also be a game-changer, but for unacceptable reasons! Many vendors provide various forms of a free trial or free sandbox to play with the capabilities. “Kicking the tires” can be an essential step as you evaluate which system suits your needs.
Beware free trials. There’s one caveat to many of the free trials of IVR systems out there. Most of the systems are 100% DIY solutions. If you have the in-house staff with the customer journey experience to build your IVR in-house, fantastic! But many do not, or assume they do until the time and expense is a burden. In this case, the expert design of a system you can easily refine and add functionality is the ideal scenario.
Will you get the support you need? It’s just as important to evaluate the vendor, as it is to evaluate their technology. Work with a vendor who cares about your customer journeys and your success.
Now Head Forth And Be a CX Hero!
Hopefully, we’ve equipped you with some basic knowledge necessary to begin your journey to game-changing CX. For more advanced best practices, download our IVR Automation Game Plan e-book. Or, for additional reading on IVR do’s and don’ts, try these additional articles from our blog:
How an IVR System Helps with After-Hours Customer Experiences
Do Your Customer Journeys End At Your IVR?
IVR Best Practices For 2020
Customer Expectations For Consumer Finance Companies in 2020
Why Today’s Customers Expect Self-Serve Options
How IVR Automation Lives In Harmony With Live Agents
Customer Service Automation: The Little Things Matter