Interactive voice response (IVR) is an effective way to improve customer satisfaction and maximize call center efficiency on many fronts.
Allowing your customers to interact with an automated answering system – whether by speaking with conversational IVR or through using the buttons on their phone – reduces call volume.
Additionally, IVR scripts allow customers to solve their problems quicker, which contribute toward everything from boosting brand perception and revenue to customer retention.
Interactive Voice Response systems allow callers to select from a menu of automated IVR prompts to be routed to the most appropriate resource.
An IVR script is meant to guide the caller to the right department information or person.
The problem is sometimes the IVR script can be very badly written, this leaves the caller frustrated when they can’t access the informational department they need.
Ineffective IVR scripts may frustrate or confuse customers, many of whom may simply bypass the automation and speak with a live customer agent – a more expensive asset for any company.
Even worse than this increase in demand is the negative word of mouth resulting from such bad encounters, and the fact that most customers are willing to abandon a company after having a poor customer service experience.
Considering the call volume many companies deal with, automated answering systems and IVR prompts are a necessity for helping to manage staffing needs and satisfaction rates.
However, all IVR scripts are not created equal. Here are some things you should avoid when writing your IVR scripts.
One of the core benefits of IVR prompts is that they allow customers to resolve their inquiries efficiently and quickly.
IVR scripts should be designed with this in mind and avoid giving your callers too much information or taking too long to provide the appropriate information.
Also, care should be taken when presenting promotional content. Generally, menu options should be limited to about 5 before breaking options off into sub-menus and each option should provide callers with quick responses containing only necessary information.
Less is usually more and shorter menu messages will contribute toward case resolution and other metrics.
Apart from overloading callers with menu options, it is also common for companies to not present options as efficiently as possible.
IVR scripts should be designed so the most frequently accessed information is available first and the least accessed information is available last.
If half of your inbound calls go to sales and only 3 percent goes to accounting, sales should clearly be listed before accounting on your IVR script.
It can be tempting to record your IVR prompts in-house and in many cases that may be a good idea but don’t underestimate the skill or prep work that goes into professional voice recordings.
Tips such as participation in something that puts you in a good mood before making the recording can go a long way toward improving quality – your emotion will carry over.
Consider hiring talent if everything else fails.
There is nothing worse than being stuck on hold while listening to the same guitar riff or promotional pitch for the dozenth time.
Make sure ads are kept to a minimum, your music does not loop too frequently, and that messages such as “your call is important to us” are not repeated too frequently.
Also, you want to reassure your customers that their calls are in a queue.
If your automated system can’t solve a customer’s inquiry and they can’t reach someone who can address the matter at that time, the system should provide a way for customers to schedule a call back from your company at a later point.
Again, this has multiple benefits that may contribute to results in satisfaction and sales rates.
It can be very tempting to load promotional content at the front of your IVR prompts so more people will hear it.
Generally, this thought process is counter-intuitive in the sense that you are more likely to annoy people than win them over.
Again, this goes back to keeping things sweet and short.
Advertisements are not likely to apply to most callers and only increase the amount of time they need to spend on the phone seeking a solution to their inquiry.
Your IVR prompt gives every caller the same messages without personalizing any options based on their history.
Previous exchanges with customers can help you better serve them going forward, whether that is with tailored messages, menus, or better service such as an improvement in your IVR prompt’s ability to route their call or preventing them from having to repeat the same information.
Maybe you opted for a voice actor who does not fit the image of your business, or maybe your hold music is set to the default option.
Personalizing an IVR script should be done with care so the presentation and tone match your company. An IVR script for a local law firm is likely to have a different vibe than one configured for a fast food restaurant.
Your IVR experience should be consistent with the brand image customers have come to expect from your company without being too informal or too formal.
In the interest of keeping your presentation consistent and clean, voice recordings should be done using the same or at least similar equipment for each recording.
Hearing different voices as you navigate through an IVR prompt is jarring enough, but having the quality or volume of the recording change as you go is just as bothersome.
Your IVR prompts are only configured to operate during business hours and don’t assist people to the same extent after hours.
There should be the availability of self-serve options 24/7.
If certain options are not available after hours, make this known early on so customers don’t navigate the entire IVR prompts only to learn that they will have to call back the next day.
It is now a standard practice for companies to send text messages or follow up emails to survey customers about their experience.
A top priority for most companies is ensuring customers are satisfied and the easiest way to find out how happy they are is to ask for their feedback during crucial moments in your relationship, such as after a significant purchase or following an encounter with your customer support team.
The language used in your IVR script is too centered on your specific industry and not clear for everyone who may be calling.
For example, if someone is calling to change their account information, they should be presented with an option that is in plain language instead of internal terminology such as being told to submit an “XY22” form for instance.
Omni-channel engagement is not a bad thing but if your customers have reached out to your company via a phone call, asking them to visit your site isn’t the best solution.
They are already seeking to resolve the issue over the phone and you have boxed them into a medium that may not suit their skills or needs, while simultaneously demonstrating that you don’t care.
When you must place customers in a call queue or on hold, inform them about how long the wait will be so they can manage their time accordingly.
If this is an ongoing message, be mindful not to make it too repetitive – reminding customers every 30 seconds that they will be on hold for another 10 minutes isn’t wise either.
Even worse is not knowing whether you can expect to wait for 15 seconds or 15 minutes.
The best IVR prompt is one that answers a customer’s inquiry without involving a live agent.
That said, there are instances when matters need to be escalated to representatives who can handle more complex calls than automated systems.
In which case, an IVR prompt’s second greatest purpose may be to connect callers as fast as possible, it is a mistake to make this more difficult than necessary.
Callers will be left frustrated as they navigate your menus seeking assistance.
The more calls you are fielding daily and the larger your organization is, the greater benefit you will see from implementing conversational IVR.
While traditional IVR systems allow callers to use basic voice commands such as “yes or no”, conversational IVR allow customers to communicate their inquiries in plain language and more complete phrases.
It allows callers to describe concerns or questions on their own words and the flexibility of a conversational IVR can adapt to these circumstances and provide customers with a more human-like interaction.
Personal assistants such as Cortana and Siri have familiarized people with this type of technology.
While relying on self-service and automation strategies to address customer concerns and questions, it can be a mistake to aim for automating a call center entirely.
Instead, it is suggested that aiming for perhaps 20% live agent calls and 80% automation is a better balance, so the bulk of routine type calls are handled through IVR systems and a smaller volume of specialized cases are handled by live representatives who are equipped to handle more challenging circumstances.
Did you just configure your IVR prompts? It may seem complete but automated systems require ongoing maintenance to be their best.
Information such as seasonal messages, promotions, web addresses, office locations, and business hours must be updated regularly and there are several ways you can refine your IVR scripts to improve customer experience.
Only a small percentage of companies offer IVR prompts that are on par with the experience derived from speaking with a live agent, which is to say there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to implementing IVR scripts, and that many mistakes are being made with current systems.
IVR scripts should strive to answer calls as efficiently as possible without involving a human agent or to involve them as quickly as possible when necessary.
Customers’ expectations are rising and many companies are reacting slowly with regards to modernizing their IVR deployments.
Improvements such as analyzing caller sentiment or intent along with other implementations of conversational capabilities and speech recognition are only just being adopted, while basic improvements such as recording quality are still underway.
Besides serving more customers in less time and decreasing the amount of time to serve each customer, IVR prompts can help you handle calls more consistently than any human in terms of quoting figures accurately or abiding by company policy.
Doing IVR right can result in reduced load on customer support agents, improved customer satisfaction, and greater revenue, while doing IVR wrong may frustrate your customers and very well lead to the opposite effect; negative brand perception, higher support volume, increased churn, and less income.
Creating an effective IVR script is a must for any business.
If you are not sure how to go about this, let Amazing Voice help you.
We have a team of professionals who are proficient in writing IVR scripts and will help you achieve your objectives.
Updated February 2020.
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