The right and wrong ways to use IVR in contact centres

ivr.image.2014While frustrating IVR menus, confusing options, and difficulty in connecting to live agents are all reasons why customers turn against traditional IVR systems, the reality is that reducing customer effort while still providing cost-effective service don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Effective self-service using technologies such as IVR and speech automation can not only lower costs and increase ROI, but also enhance the customer experience. Done right, intelligent self-service can provide customers with a more personalised service approach – ranging across both automated and agent-led interactions – from start to finish.

Four key examples of effective IVR self-service in action are:
  • Automating simple, repetitive tasks – automated IVR systems can quickly identify and fulfill the customer’s need, freeing contact centre agents from handling more complicated problems by eliminating routine, manual processes. Should the customer need to opt out and switch to live service, intelligent routing ensures that the caller is routed to the right individual – not just the first available agent. This can be applied across numerous support processes such as address changes, password resets, payment questions, surveys or address changes. Increasingly, mobile ‘Visual IVR’-style applications also offer another valuable self-service option.
  • Smoothing interaction volumes – customers frequently cite waiting times as their most frustrating customer service issue. Putting self-service IVR to work and offering customers the option of being called back – either as soon as an agent’s available or at a pre-agreed time – not only improves customer satisfaction, but also lets contact centres optimise their staffing levels with a potentially significant impact on operational costs.
  • Optimising operational payment performance – IVR also works well in helping organisations automate payments and sales support over the phone. Add to this the ability to seamlessly integrate with the contact centre when further help is needed – either via phone or web chat – and IVR-led automated payments becomes a very attractive option to drive increases in online transactions
  • Improving enterprise resource usage – Using IVR self-service at the front end of customer interactions can help steer customers to the most appropriate resource, whether through intelligent steering, automated identification and verification, or simply more appropriate matching of customer enquiries to skilled expertise. Applying these techniques can unlock impressive time reductions from each interaction providing organisations with a significant resource saving that they can then apply to other areas of customer engagement.
Three things not to do with IVR…
  • Watch your language – too many automated answering systems structure the dialogue around what the organisation wants to achieve from routing and reporting. This can easily cause confusion and caller dissatisfaction as it becomes too hard for customers to determine the option that is most appropriate to their main call reason. At best this results in a poor customer experience, but it is also more likely to cause mis-routes and customer distress. The trick is to first understand what you want from routing but then to present the dialogue to the customer in such a way that makes most sense to them and their call reasons.
  • The right things to automate – the temptation is to only target the automation of tasks that are of low value to your organisation. However, a core factor driving the success of any self-service solution is the ease that a potential user encounters in determining whether a self-service option will meet their needs. For self-service to be successful, the customer needs to be able to identify clearly what it is they are looking for and then be confident that the task offered will meet that requirement. Unfortunately that link is not always obvious.
  • Don’t make me say it twice – despite the ease of maintaining caller data with a call, customers are still asked far too often to repeat information when calls are transferred between automated systems or between agents. Computer telephony integration should have solved this problem 20 years ago. Recent advances in telephony protocols, such as SIP, has now made this even easier. However, there are still too many examples where this happens causing great frustration for customers.

sabio.stuart.dorman.image.2014Stuart Dorman is Head of Consulting at Sabio

For additional information on Sabio see their Company Profile




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