10 steps that will improve your IVR & customers experience

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Get it right & your customers will have a much better experience interacting with your brand, increasing their lifetime value & recommending you to family & friends.

First impressions count for a lot, which is why businesses spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns showcasing their products & services to attract new customers.  

However once onboarded, your IVR gives these new customers their first impression of what to expect from your business when it comes to customer support.  

Get it right & your customers will have a much better experience interacting with your brand, increasing their lifetime value & recommending you to family & friends.  

On the flipside, get it wrong & you’ll quickly turn customers off whilst risking losing them as customers & damaging you brands reputation.  

Below we’ll look at ways in which you can welcome new customers & enhance your customers experience.  

  1. Run the data, know your ‘contact reasons’, understand trends. 

The last thing your customers want when they ring up is to listen to loads of IVR options that aren’t relevant to what they want to discuss with you. With so many different reasons, how do you get it right?  

  • Run your reports & look back at your ‘contact reason’ history over the previous 3- or 6-month period to look for the trends in the data.  
  • What were the top 10 reasons customers contacted you for?  
  • Write them down in order of your most popular reasons. 
  • Were any of these reasons seasonal or related to specific events?  
  • Do this exercise again for the previous 3- or 6-month period & cross reference the trends for this period, are they the same?  
  • Identify which queries are more complex or high value so they need to speak to agent & which queries are simpler & can possibly be re-directed to self-service options.  
  1. Create an IVR flow template  

Once you have identified all the reasons your customers contact your business & ranked them in popularity, the next step is to create a flow template.  

This template will help you visualise & understand how your IVR menu options will flow so you can see the path that your customers will take to be routed through to relevant person to deal with their query.  

  1. Create your IVR menu, ideally with no more than 5 options leaving a 6th option left for all other queries.  

Go back to the work you did in the previous step & plot our your main IVR menu options based on the main contact reasons your customers are contacting you about.  

Then plot out your IVR menu in order of your most popular to least popular reasons. In doing this, you’ll find that most customers will chose an options & go through to the relevant department within the first set of options they are presented with.  

  1. Segment these options further to understand the intent for the call so they can be routed to the best possible agents to deal with them.  

Now you have your main IVR menu options, you need to segment these further so you can understand the exact reason for the call to ensure its routed through to the agents best equipped to deal with it.  

For example:  

If your most popular contact reason is for billing, you’ll then break this down further.  

Once your customer has selected ‘option 1 for billing’.  

They should now be presented with another set of more specific options.  

*Press option 1 to check your monthly charges.  

*Press option 2 to pay your bill.  

*Press option 3 for all other billing queries.  

By selecting the most relevant option, the customer will be routed through to the agent that can best deal with their query.  

  1. Route based on complexity, at this point, you can introduce self-service for more simple queries.  

Complex queries or high value revenue high calls should be routed through to the next available agent equipped to deal with the query.  

By referring to step one, you can double check your IVR supports this & also introduce self-service options for more simple queries that can be handled without having to speak to someone on the phone.  

According to the Harvard Business Review,81% of all customers attempt to take care of issues themselves before reaching out to a live representative – across industries. 

  1. Keep every part of the customers journey in mind.  

As you go through the next steps, try to imagine yourself in your customers shoes as they go through your IVR, make sure the process is simple, easy to understand & relevant, if something doesn’t feel like it flows well, review & change as necessary.  

  1. Chose an advanced IVR system

Advanced IVR automatically recognise phone numbers & can address customers personally & offer them more customised menus & call routing options.  

If a customer has already been through a certain set of options on another channel, the IVR can even bypass those prompts, so they aren’t offered the same options they’ve already been through.   

This is a great way to improve customer satisfaction before the call is even answered as not only is it a more personal service, but you can anticipate your customer’s needs.  

  1. Omni-channel contact history is king 

When a customer comes via your IVR to an agent, the last thing they want to do is repeat themselves. The agent answering the call needs to be aware of what the call is about & they also need access to previous contact history.  

Most businesses operate in an omni-channel environment, their customers interact with them through different channels, whether that’s a website, a live chat, a social media channel or even via WhatsApp messages. Which is your IVR needs to be integrated with your CRM, so all the relevant contact history is available.  

It’s worth noting that customers expect the same level of service across all your channels, so having that contact history available for each channel will serve you well.  

  1. Repeated messages & hold music  

Customers are aware you will be recording calls for training & monitoring purposes.  

So, you only really need to tell them once, twice as a maximum. Listening to same message over & over quickly wears thin & can start to irritate customers.  

The same goes for your hold music, especially if the wait times are high!  

Apple & other larger organisations give customers options around what kind of music they would prefer to listen to, such as classical, jazz or even chart music.  

This is a nice touch & is a great way for your IVR to reflect your brand personality.  

  1. Regularly advise on queue position or your average wait time. 

Another easy way frustrate customers is to have then wait on hold & not tell them how long they are expected to wait for.  

Your customers lead busy lives, juggling work with family life, appointments, chasing up important stuff, the list is endless.  

By letting customers know how long they should expect to wait to speak to you they can make an informed decision as to whether to stay on the line or not.  

If a customer has a spare 15 minutes, the last thing they want to do is wait on hold 15 minutes only to have to hang up & call back again later.  

Take the guess work out of it & you’ll end up with fewer frustrated customers coming through to your customer care teams.  

  1. Offer the option for a call back  

I’ll let you into a secret, no one likes waiting in a queue. If your call waits are high, give your customers the option hold their place in the queue or arrange a call back at a more convenient time.  

If they opt to hold their place in the queue, they will be placed in a virtual queue & be called back when their call would have been answered had they stayed on hold.  

If they opt for a call back, the call will be automatically rescheduled for a convenient time as chosen by the customer.  

  1. Schedule your opening hours  

When a customer calls up out of hours, they shouldn’t be placed into a queue on hold.  

Regularly update your opening hours so that a message is played out of hours detailing what times customers can reach your business via the telephone.  

And when it’s out of hours, give your customers self-service options via your website. This can be updated FAQ’s or even better, an AI chatbot that can interact with customers & answer both simple & more complex queries.  

  1. Monitor & make changes regularly.

Your IVR will evolve over time, seasons change, the world changes & the reasons your customers contact you change with it.  

Be sure to make time to always go back over the first step to understand your customers ‘contact reasons’ & amend your IVR & self-service options as necessary.  

Technology advances so quickly so be sure to always stay one step ahead of the curve by adopting new best practices when new technology becomes available. 

10. Choose your metrics wisely.  

Now you have re-designed your IVR you need to have a think about which metrics you want to focus on to make sure customers are satisfied with your service.  

Most contact centres look at the following metrics:  

* (net promotor score) which is used to measure the loyalty of customers to a company.  

*CSAT (customer satisfaction) which is used to quantify how happy a customer is with a company.  

*ASA (average speed of answer) which measures the total wait time that customers are in a queue. The typical industry benchmark is 28 seconds! 

*FCR (first contact resolution) which measures if a customer service agent has properly addressed a customer’s needs the first time they call.  

These are great KPI’s but don’t overlook other important data, the devil is often in the detail so here’s some other things to look at.  

  1. Look into your call transfers 

How many customers need to be transferred through to another department on answer?  

Why are they being transferred through? Listen to the calls & pinpoint what’s going wrong so you can change it.  

  1. Ask for customer feedback  

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback on your IVR, especially when you make any changes.  

Is it simple to follow?  

Could you offer more self-service options?  

How could it be improved?  

Customers feedback is a brilliant way to find out what works well & what doesn’t, plus it shows them you care & are thinking about the customer journey from their perspective.  

In Summary 

Your IVR really does give your customers a first impression on what to expect when it comes to customer support.  

A well thought out IVR often leads to well thought customer service & the effort you put into getting it right, pays off in lots of different ways.  

Don’t guess at it, take the time to go through each step.  

When it comes to technology, it changes often so choose a software vendor that continually invests in keeping their software up to date, so you don’t get left behind.  

To find out more about QContact & how we can support your business to make sure you give your customers the best possible service through any channel, you can contact us on the details below.  

Via the website:  

www.qcontact.com/get-started-book-a-demo 

Via the telephone:  

UK 0330 1 222 333 

US (833) 322-2345 

ES 910 76 71 26 

SA 060 0 777 123 

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