How to create an IVR system that your Callers would love. For best IVR results, proper planning is required. Without adequate IVR testing for your IVR message as well as an appropriate IVR service provider, you cannot ensure customer delight.
However many times the purpose of creating IVR is not Customer delight but to reduce the cost of handling calls. However, we should not forget that Customer delight is everything. If customers are unhappy, there won’t be any incoming calls altogether.
In case you would like to know – What is IVR?
Nobody likes to wait and listen to IVR prompts. Even you don’t love IVR, when you are on calling side. People don’t call to listen to IVR, they call to get their purpose resolved. Keep this in mind while designing IVR.
This article focuses on Inbound (Interactive voice response)IVR only, which is more common. However, there is an option of outbound IVR. Also, the principles will apply nevertheless to both equally.
Cloud IVR System or Onsite IVR Server
While the purpose of this article is not to make a comparison between Cloud IVR v/s Onsite IVR Server, you should consider this. Cloud-based Interactive Voice Response might look lucrative in the beginning price-wise and simplicity-wise, but it ultimately becomes a costlier solution. Also, there is a vendor lock which you cannot easily escape.
The number of hidden costs is much higher in the case of Cloud IVR Systems, whereas an onsite IVR server is an IVR system that you buy for a one-time cost.
IVR Testing and IVR Planning Best Practices
IVR Solution is probably the most critical component of your Customer Communication cycle because your customer is going to interact with this before anything else. So, take good care when you select IVR applications from IVR Service Provider. Do you want to handle Call volumes or do you want to delight customers?
1. Planning IVR
1. Understand your Customer Persona.
This is probably the most important part of entire Customer Service Planning. You can design your IVR depending on who your customer (the Caller) is. For Example, You don’t want to make your Premium Car Customer wait and hear that IVR, you want them to be welcomed and pampered by a live agent.
2. Understand the intent of the Call.
It is easier to do this if your IVR system is linked to your CRM system. So that when a Call popup appears on the screen of Live Agent, he/she can almost know why the caller is calling.
3. Always start with the purpose.
What is the purpose of setting up IVR? Is it the lead generation or Customer Service or a contact center for some low-cost service? How important is customer satisfaction in the whole exercise?
4. Not an IT Guys job.
The most significant mistake that you can do. The design of IVR is not an IT (or telecom) Guy’s Job. The functional expert (the marketing Manager or Customer Service Head) needs to play a very active role in designing the IVR. Psychology is much more important than saving costs.
5. IVR is your brand.
Your Customers (callers) hear your IVR before they listen to you. Your IVR is a critical component of your Brand Experience. Please handle it with care.
6. Parameters to consider
There are lots of things to be considered before you go ahead from here.
- The number of calls expected.
- An average amount of time is required to handle a call.
- Average time required for after-call work or called wrapping. For example: taking necessary actions as per discussion or making entries in the software etc.
- Proper training, review, and coaching of all the Call center Executives on a regular basis.
- Information that the executive should know before receiving calls.
- Properly designing scripts for Contact Center Agents.
- Regular Feedback mechanism from Customers.
- Most importantly, Regular actions on Feedback given by Customers.
2. Designing Call Flow or Call Routing.
- Most of the people think of IVR as a collection of Voice Prompts and IVR actions.
- CRM integration can help know the history of the customer to improve proper Call Routing.
- While designing the Call flow, try to reduce prompts as much as possible.
- For example, Integrated CRM can help detect Premium customers and route them to premium service executives directly. OR CRM can identify customers of a particular product and then transfer those calls to that Agent group directly. Thus making entire IVR more intelligent. You can even skip the main menu of IVR with this integration.
- Most importantly, do not make multiple levels unless it is very much necessary. You don’t want to annoy your customers, right.
3. Designing Call Popup
- Call Popup is based on CLI (Caller Line Identification), which shows the phone number of the calling person. When your IVR System is integrated with your CRM, Call Popup which appears in CRM can be brilliantly used.
- It helps in Detecting Intent of call before answering.
- The Call Popup can also Remember the preferences and Customer classifications and show it on the popup so that the Live Agent can be more effective.
- Call popup helps to get all vital statistics on the screen of the Live agent.
- Creating and testing Call Popup will be important part of IVR Testing.
4. Selecting IVR Message
- As far as possible avoid using text to speech, it sounds too robotic. Use voice of a live person as voice prompts in IVR, Interactive voice response. Even though you might be trying to create an impression of the virtual receptionist, still I would insist on using the real voice of a real person.
- Make that IVR message as short as possible and as clear as possible.
- Test your IVR message with few of your customers to get proper feedback before deploying it.
5. Selecting IVR Service provider
- Selecting proper IVR service provider is very important if you are selecting Cloud IVR system. Because if your virtual numbers or IVR system is offline for few hours that can create an extremely bad impression on your clients.
- However, if you are buying an onsite IVR Server, then you are safer.
- Make sure that your requirements are fulfilled in the IVR solution before you buy it.
- The best way is to talk to some of the customers of the IVR Service Provider.
6. Avoid IVR for Call Waiting
- Tell me frankly, do you like when you hear “Your call is important for us, please wait while our Agents are busy”. Naturally, everyone hates this.
- Make sure that you plan call flow and call volume properly to avoid this kind of scenario.
- There is a better way for Call waiting, Just play “We will call you back” and cut the call. Now, make sure that your IVR system has a proper callback mechanism, with a call back reporting.
7. IVR Testing
- Check entire Call Flow and all the IVR messages.
- Check the infrastructure of IVR Service Providers, for the downtime.
- In case you are going for onsite IVR Server, then make sure that you have proper backup and High availability facility for business continuity.
- Regression Testing for testing whether the system will take the Call volume load, during peak hours.
8. IVR Reporting (this is continuous IVR Testing)
- While checking IVR reports, put your primary focus on the purpose of IVR and then start to think of other things. Very often, people tend to look at IVR reports as call volumes and call efficiency, remember you had put IVR because you wanted to delight your customers by serving them better.
- However, your IVR system should give you following IVR reports:
- Total Calls received.
- Calls abandoned. (Calls that did not reach the Live Agent, but were abandoned while in IVR call routing stage).
- Calls dropped. (Calls that were received by the IVR system, but did not go through call flow.)
- Which IVR prompts are selected most of the time.
- Call Feedback reports.
- Live Agents Performance reports.