Business owners implement interactive voice response (IVR) systems to automate call answering, streamline customer service and allow their staff to focus on specific queries. IVR systems can be as straightforward as asking customers to press 1 for billing, 2 for product information and 3 to speak with a customer service representative (CSR). They can also include sophisticated options for credit card payment processing and ways for customers to check shipping statuses.
While IVR systems can make life easier for customers and employees, they can frustrate users. Poorly designed IVR systems can be challenging to navigate and hard to understand, creating a negative customer experience that can impact how people see your business.
Fortunately, paying attention to specific design elements can help ensure customers enjoy using your IVR system. Here’s some advice for designing an IVR system that doesn’t annoy your customers and a look at business phone systems and call center services that can help.
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According to Bill Pawlak, president of the product research company 15 Degrees, to create an IVR system that helps a business and its customers, business owners must consider why users call the system.
For example, if 80 percent of daily callers want to create new, stronger passwords, an option for new passwords should be one of the first menu choices. “You want to organize information so it is useful to the end user, not necessarily the company,” Pawlak explained.
Pawlak believes businesses should focus on three primary categories when designing an IVR system: menu options, navigation and language.
Pawlak says that when deciding on the IVR system’s menu, don’t overwhelm customers with too many options. “You want to present options in a way that makes it easiest for the users,” he advised.
Pawlak offered the following tips regarding menu options:
It’s also essential to make the system easy to navigate so customers can get their questions answered quickly. “You don’t want to make people jump through hoops,” Pawlak noted.
Pawlak suggests the following system navigation options:
According to Pawlak, when deciding what to say on the IVR system, businesses must think like their customers. For example, while a business might have formal names for departments or use various acronyms, not all customers will know what those terms mean. “You want to understand how people refer to the product or service and just speak the user’s language,” Pawlak advised.
Pawlak’s language tips include the following:
Pawlak offers an additional script-related tip: Never start a call with, “Listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.” There’s no quick way to explain the old menu options and it assumes the customer is a frequent caller. “It automatically starts things off on the wrong foot,” Pawlak said.
Did you know? Ineffective and frustrating IVR systems can equate to bad customer service in customers’ minds, leading some to abandon your brand after one adverse experience.
The best business phone systems and call center services for IVR
Business phone systems often offer IVR functionality, making it easy to implement an IVR system for your business.
An IVR that your customers like should feel as intuitive to you as it does to them. Following all the above principles will help you achieve this goal as will implementing a high-quality business phone system or call center service. When you build the right infrastructure for your IVR and overall business, you set yourself up to provide the best possible customer experience.
Chad Brooks contributed to the reporting and writing of this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.