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Design your IVR just the way your callers want: An ultimate guide

IVR design
MyOperator / Blog / Design your IVR just the way your callers want: An ultimate guide

He was pissed off. It had been just a week that he started using their services, and there were already many issues. He needed some technical assistance immediately. He raised an online support ticket, however, didn’t receive satisfactory help. Finally, he decided to call on their customer support contact number.

He was positive that his problem will definitely be sorted over the call. Once the call got connected, he was greeted professionally by an IVR. But after that, things went wrong!

He got stuck in the maze of IVR menus for almost 15 minutes. And finally, he gave up. Neither was he able to connect with the agent, nor could he get the information through self-service options. He tried contacting again the next day but the same thing happened. IVR proved to be insufficient to handle his query.

There wasn’t a single way he could have contacted customer support executive directly.

Infuriated by all these experiences, he finally stopped the services and left negative reviews on social media platforms.

Who was at fault? Executives? The customer? Or the makers of IVR design?

The customer got churned. A significant part of the company’s revenue was gone. Maybe a good call-handling process or an efficient IVR would have saved the client. Maybe, atleast one on-call communication with an executive would have resolved all the issues.

Poor IVR design ruined the complete customer experience.

What is the actual purpose of business IVR?

It’s understood that nobody likes to build a negative experience for their customers and prospects. IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is actually implemented to make customer service process easy, smooth, quick and effective. But, for this ideal scenario to happen, IVR must be smart and efficient.

Before jumping into nitty-gritties of an IVR system and design, let’s first know the ideal purposes of using a business IVR.

  1. Assist customers with a request/task
  2. Route calls to the right agents
  3. Ensure 24*7 availability
  4. Reduce operational costs
  5. Faster resolution of customer queries
  6. Increase use of self-service options
  7. Enhance customer experience

What does an IVR actually do when it’s not user-friendly?

Everybody must have got a chance to interact with a business IVR. However, if in case, the IVR would have failed to give you a satisfactory experience, these thoughts must have crossed your mind.

  1. Do I really have to listen to complete IVR menu to reach the executive?
  2. I did leave my message in the voicemail but will anybody actually listen to that?
  3. Where is the option of speaking to a live agent?
  4. Why isn’t agent picking up the call? I can’t bear their caller tune anymore!
  5. I’m least interested in listening to company’s offers.
  6. Where is the option that I need?
  7. Maybe I chose the wrong language. I can hardly understand anything.
  8. I wish call quality was a little better. Atleast I could hear the IVR menu.
  9. (Worst of all) Why is there an IVR at all? Can I not speak directly to the agent?

Customers often fail to realize the importance of IVR. So, to ensure that IVR easens the customer service process, and does what it is actually meant to do, businesses must follow these simple hacks.

Factors to consider before deciding your IVR design

Before you jump onto designing your IVR menu, these are some factors that you must analyze.

1. Business type or market positioning:

If you provide high end services or products such as a luxury hotel or retailer, then it’s important that you make it fast and easy for your callers to speak to a live agent. If you’re a provider of low cost goods and services, you can offer more self-service options, and only provide the option to speak to a live agent at the very end.

2. Purpose of calls: Detailed analysis of purpose of calls can help prioritize order of options in the IVR menu. Most frequent requests can be kept in the beginning and vice versa. Call recordings of your business calls can help you analyze the same.

3. Demographic of your callers/customers: Location and age of your callers has a great deal to play in designing your IVR menu. If most of your customers are old age, they are more likely to talk directly to a live agent than going through the IVR. Location of callers helps you decide languages that should be preferred while designing the IVR.

Hacks to make your IVR system user friendly

1. One line welcome message is indeed a good welcome.
Keep your welcome message short and to the point. A welcome greeting should only be a welcome greeting, and not a marketing discount offer. “Hi, welcome to XYZ Pvt. Ltd.” is enough to greet a caller.

2. Make your IVR a real agent, not a robot.
IVR shouldn’t sound robotic. A business must analyze callers’ needs before setting up an IVR, and design the IVR menu accordingly. It’ll make the IVR more interactive, helpful and easy to use.

3. Recognize your callers when they come again.
Who doesn’t like being remembered? If a customer is valuable to you make them feel valuable. Greet them with their names instead of the default welcome greeting message. Don’t let IVR hamper your personalization.

4. Let customers create their own IVR path (Allow barge-in).
What if your IVR doesn’t give your callers the option he/she is looking for? Or what if the option is hidden somewhere inside? Allow your callers to talk directly to the representative in that case.

Mostly, at the end of IVR menu, there’s an option “Press 0 to talk to our customer care executive”. This option helps callers connect directly to an executive, and doesn’t let them have a poor experience.

5. Make follow up message a part of your IVR.
Make your IVR reliable. Especially in the case of self service IVR, when a caller makes a request, or leaves any message in the voicemail, do send a follow up text message to the caller as a confirmation that the request has been received. This makes the caller trust your IVR.

6. Keep your agent aware about caller-IVR interaction.
Mostly, callers need to repeat all the information entered in the IVR once the call is connected to the respective agent. This wastes both the callers’ as well as agents’ time.

To avoid this, the information already entered via the IVR can be popped up on agent’s screen once the call is connected. This will keep both the agent and the caller on the same page.

7. Live agent option is not worth missing
Even though you create your IVR with utmost precision, you cannot serve needs of all the callers. So, you must allow the caller to connect to a live agent directly or atleast allow them to request a call back.

8. Customers aren’t here to listen your marketing messages.
Make it a point not to flash too many marketing messages while playing your IVR. These messages waste callers’ time if they aren’t interested as well as contribute to poor customer experience. Maybe a good time to play marketing messages is when the caller is on hold and is waiting for the agent to take his/her call.

9. ‘Our menu has changed’ isn’t the callers’ concern.
It’s not compulsory to tell your callers that your menu has changed. They won’t be really concerned about the change in IVR options. They will, eventually, listen and figure out the options that are useful to them.

10. Breathing is necessary for an IVR as well.
Don’t make your IVR too fast. Give your callers enough time to listen, think and react. IVR should be clearly audible and callers must get enough time to give their input.

11. No jargon, no heavy vocab, keep it simple.
Well, no one is going to keep a dictionary while interacting with your IVR. That’s not the right place to showcase your vocabulary. Make your IVR so simple that it can be understood and used any anybody.

12. Explain customer errors just like your agent would do.
There are instances when caller presses wrong input key out of nowhere. So, IVR doesn’t need to shout, or ignore, or disconnect the call.

Instead, let your callers know that they have entered a wrong input and bear with them. Make your IVR as polite as your agent.

13. Keep your options as less as you can.
It includes taking care of two things. First, your master menu shouldn’t contain too many options. Keep it as short as possible.

Second, not keeping a lot of sub-menus. They also confuse your callers. So, design your IVR in such a way that requests with similar attributes fall under the same category.

14. Review and enhance your IVR.
Once the IVR is all set, the task isn’t over. It should be reviewed consistently after a given time duration.

In cases, when a business sets up a new IVR, it can check the number of ‘zero-outs’ and the number of times a particular option has been selected. It will tell you the significance of particular option as well as if the IVR is serving its purpose of routing calls to the right agents.

If you are already using an IVR, reconsider the IVR design. See if all the above factors are taken into consideration.

If you are still not using an IVR or planning to use one, get one for your business as soon as possible. A good IVR not only saves your callers’ time but also reduces your business expenditure significantly.

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