The average consumer believes that having more choices would allow them to customize their life. Companies comply with this demand and promise to offer us more choices. More flavors of Mountain Dew, more channels with your cable subscription package, or more options for insurance coverage! Unfortunately, more choices can lead to more confusion. This phenomenon is known as decision fatigue. While one would think that having more choices would be beneficial to customers, it actually turns out that’s it’s not best for business. This is especially true when customers call. If the menu tree for your IVR has too many options, your customers may hang up and call the competition.

Seek to Understand Your Customers

Stephen Covey made this one of his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Seek to understand then to be understood. Let’s then figure out why a customer would be likely to call your company’s customer service line.

  • Something has gone wrong with an item that a customer purchased.
  • They have to pay for goods, or services, purchased from your company.
  • The customer needs you to find an item your business carries
  • Someone is on their way and needs to find your location.

These likely scenarios have a common theme; the customer has a need that your company can solve. However, they also have a sense of negativity in common. In each case, something has gone wrong. The customer depends on your company for help; to make their world a little more positive than after they got off the phone with you.

Setting Up Navigation

Now that we’ve established that customers are calling with a purpose, let them be able to navigate your system to find what they’re looking for. This can be accomplished when you put the name of the department first. This works because a customer will listen for the name of the destination, then press the corresponding number. Were too many people pushing the one key or zero key? Ease the trigger-happy caller by letting them know the order if need be.

Keep It Simple and Straightforward

It’s good to have an IVR that will route customers to the right department. However, presenting too many options will just wind up exhausting your customer. An IVR system can have a simple set up to handle the basic needs of their customer base. For example, customers could navigate your IVR and press 1 for billing, 2 to find a location, or 3 to reach a specific department. If you offer too many options, like listing each department in alphabetical order, you’re going to lose your customer’s attention. This could lead to losing their business. We make poorer decisions when we are tired. The human mind can only sort through so many choices before it starts to run out of steam. Ever notice that grocery store have gossip magazines and candy bars by the checkout lane? There’s actually a science to it. We’re exhausted some walking around the store and deciding what to purchase for a week. The impulse buys placed in the checkout aisle can be hard to resist. The same goes for our everyday lives. Having a mentally exhausting day at work will wear out a person. Your business needs to keep this in mind when designing your IVR. Get the customer what they need as soon as possible. An optimal IVR should adhere to the K.I.S.S. Principle (Keep It Simple and Straightforward). The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. A long, drawn-out IVR is no exception to this. By cutting down options, your customers won’t be mashing the ‘0″ key to speak with an operator. Speaking of that…

Don’t Waste A Caller’s Time

Ultimately, when a customer calls, they want a solution to their problem solved quickly. If a customer is navigating a cumbersome IVR, they will tap the “0” key until they get to speak to a representative. This can cause wait times to increase. Also, your agent will likely transfer them to a department they could have found through your IVR. Keeping it simple allows customers to find the department that can best serve them. If this isn’ the case, and agents are currently handling the calls of other customers, let your customer know. If your hold message tells the customer that their call is important to you, show them. Giving your customer the option to provide a callback number, or leave a voicemail, means that they don’t feel like they are wasting their time. Also, if your business is closed let your customer know that right away.  If some options, like automated payments, can be handled without the need of an agent then let your customer know that the option is available. Just because your business shut down for the day, doesn’t mean your phone lines have to be.  Otherwise, your customers may want to find out if your competitors are capable of handling after-hours calls, or how long they will be tethered to a phone waiting for an agent.  At the very least, have a prompt that provides business hours and encourages customers either call back or leave a callback number. Then call them back ASAP. Your customer will know that your business listened to them, and they’ll feel valued for it.

Brand Your IVR

Does your company have a mission statement or core values? Maybe your company won an award recently. Sharing this information is much better than hold music. If a customer is willing to call and wait on hold, this is a great opportunity to let your customer learn more about your company. Your customers can learn about other services your company provides. Did you go the extra mile and was your customer happy? Why not let them have the opportunity to record a testimonial? Maybe the customer listening will be able to connect and be more confident they choose wisely when they contacted you to handle their problem in the first place.

Inform Your Agents

The last thing customers want to do is repeat themselves. They just navigated through your IVR, why make them jump through those hoops again? A whisper message can help your agent know who is calling. This is a brief message, which only your representative will hear. Before a call is connected to, an automated system relays information about the caller so that they know who they are and why they are calling. Yes, your likely have to make sure it’s the customer and have them identify themselves. If you’re having the customer enter their account info, using the telephone keypad, ask for another bit of information that your automated system didn’t ask before. This can be the customer’s address or the last four of their social security number. This saves time and demonstrates to the customer that you’re paying attention.

Place Customers First

IVR Tech Group can help provide IVR services that place your customer’s needs first. Are more customers calling in to change their password or pay their bill? Call detail reports can help to narrow down options and help serve your customers faster. By finding trends and placing the most popular options first you’ll be able to satisfy the needs of your customers and can reduce the amount of time they spend on the phone. We’ll work with your company to make sure the best possible solutions can be provided and help monitor how long customer calls were when they called, and where they came from.