Communication is KING in our new world of endless texts, emails, tweets and posts. In fact I bet you can’t remember how you got through a day before your phone was permanently attached to your hip. We seem to be reaching a critical point in the volume and number of forms of personal communication we are engaged in. Amongst the torrent of communication we all encounter in a day - how do you cut through the noise? How do we get our customers to listen, and provide them an opportunity to be heard?
We ask the same questions when we look at the true interaction involved in Interactive Voice Response solutions (IVRS). Will your IVR just create more noise for your customers? Will your system simply be a glorified dialler or an auto attendant or will it actually be effective and interactive? Will people actually like to use it? How many customers will just “zero out”?
We’ve discovered a simple yet powerful answer. To rise above the noise and be heard with your IVR, the caller must gain something of value by using your system. The value could be as simple as saving time; perhaps paying a bill is 30 seconds faster using the IVR than with a live attendant or on your website. Or, the value could be in the recent nature of the information. Perhaps a customer calling their local utility can access the most up-to-date outage information via IVR which is not yet available on the website.
In the new world of constant communication here are just a few things we’ve learned that might help you create value in every call for your customers and help you get the most out of your IVR.
- Be concise. Don’t offer 25 choices; what are the main transactions your customers want to complete or the key areas of information they seek? (Notice I said your customers, not your company.) You can’t save customers time if the IVR script goes on and on.
- Give them options early. Don’t bury the IVR behind a cheerful operator who asks, “How are you today”. Remember that customers are here to save time; they just want to pay their bill or confirm their appointment and get on with their busy lives. Getting to the transaction option fast will minimize the impulse that customers have to “zero out”.
- Respond promptly. Build your interactive solution to actively respond to every customer input with intelligent follow up choices. (HINT - this is a function of the quality the speech recognition engine in your system and of the quality of development of your IVR technology and script – be sure to work with an IVR provider that has lots of experience in your market space).
- Encourage interruptions. Ensure your IVR solution offers “barge in” technology which allows customers to respond to prompts without listening to the entire command and will again save time for your customers.
- Jump the queue. Ensure your IVR system offers immediate follow up with a live representative once the routine transactions have been completed using the IVR. Best case scenario here is to push your IVR customers to the front of the queue for a live attendant when they need it. Remember to reward your customers for using the IVR for everyday transactions like bill payments, by quickly getting them to a live attendant for escalated issues. There has to be something in it for the caller!
Outbound IVR solutions have their own unique set of additional interaction do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t surprise them. Tell customers ahead of time that your IVR will be in touch with them. If customers know that you use an effective interactive solution as part of your full suite of customer service outreach tools, they will be much more likely to respond positively.
- Personalize the call. Your script should get to the point – and quick! Use your outbound IVR in a concise, clear manner and provide the customer effective options to listen to information and promotions that are tailored to them. They must perceive value in the call.
- Use talent. Studies show we all respond better to certain voices and specific accents are more pleasing than others. Choosing the right voice talent is key to guaranteeing your IVR’s success. (HINT - this is another area where the right IVR provider is worth its weight in gold – don’t set yourself up for failure by partnering with an IVR company that doesn’t have human behaviour expertise and proven successful script writing and voice talent).
- Change the rules. Ensure that the IVR can call alternate numbers for the same contact or retry the call depending on whether there is no answer or it gets voicemail. (These are called business rules and the IVR platform should make it easy to tweak these.)
Working closely with leading hospitals, colleges, utilities and many other organizations has given the team at Vocantas an edge when it comes to successfully deploying IVR solutions that LISTEN. We use our knowledge of human behaviour to deploy IVR solutions that are truly interactive customer experiences. Our proven successful solutions take the guess work out of building an IVR that works. Our IVR systems return value to the caller which guarantees that our customers see great ROI. By putting the “interactive” back into interactive voice response Vocantas solutions deliver results.