Contact centers face constant shifts like any industry, with contact center trends reporting more remote call centers and a heightened need for customer intelligence and improved work environments.
A robust call center IVR system and strategy can support all the above trends. Here we’ll get into the basics of call center IVR and why it’s important, as well as some call center IVR best practices that’ll improve your call center performance.
What is Call Center IVR?
Call center IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, is a communication router that directs customer calls and messages to the appropriate agent or department.
In simple terms? IVR links your customer to the information they need.
A call center IVR system presents options to a customer to help route their call. The customer selects the appropriate choice either by pressing a number, selecting a choice from an online menu, or by verbally indicating their choice through IVR voice recognition.
Unfortunately, studies show that 61% of customers don’t like call center IVR systems. Many call center IVRs take up a lot of time and frustrate customers. In most scenarios, a customer prefers speaking to a human rather than a robot. But these days, call center IVR offers more flexibility and immediacy to customers than ever before, especially Web Call-Back systems.
Why a Great Call Center IVR Experience Matters.
As mentioned, many customers don’t like call center IVR systems. Reasons for customer dissatisfaction with IVR vary, including long and uncertain wait times, irrelevant or lengthy IVR options, and a lack of empathy.
Luckily, a great IVR system addresses all the above concerns (we’ll get into how later in this article). But first, let’s explore why a great call center IVR experience matters.
It improves efficiency.
Customer expectations have evolved to include immediacy in the past couple of years. A strong call center IVR is available to provide support whenever and wherever their customers need it. IVR systems save time by:
- Connecting customers to the right agent through call routing.
- Allowing callers to schedule a call-back instead of waiting on hold.
- Communicating important updates to customers navigating the system.
Time efficiency and customer satisfaction go hand in hand, as customers will be happier if their issues are resolved quickly. Time efficiency acts like dominos, linking to better customer satisfaction, improved metrics, and positive word of mouth.
It saves your call center money.
High call volumes force call centers to schedule more agents and hire more talent. IVR systems help promote agent productivity and save call centers labor costs in a couple of ways. First, they allow customers the option to schedule a voice call-back, allowing agents to focus on customers that wish to be served promptly. Second, IVR can provide the information a customer needs without having to speak to an agent.
One study compares the cost of IVR as $1 per contact compared to the telephone-service cost of $6-12 per contact. Clearly, IVR is cheaper!
Now that we know the benefits of a strong IVR, let’s explore how call center leaders can optimize IVR to better experience the benefits.
Call Center IVR Best Practices.
Always offer a call-back.
Customers hate long hold times. One way to minimize customer dissatisfaction amidst a call spike is to include a call-back option in your call center IVR.
Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs is a great way to give your customers the flexibility they desire. With this call center technology, Fonolo takes on the burden of the hold time, so that your customers don’t have to.
Include a live agent option.
Despite the evolution of IVR, many customers still crave a live-agent option when they call a business. Make sure to include a live-agent IVR option that your customers can access quickly, without having to listen through all the other IVR options again.
Gather feedback and customer data.
Call center leaders aren’t strangers to KPIs, metrics, and call center reporting — after all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
The only way to know how your customers truly feel about your call center IVR is by asking them outright. Send customers mini-surveys every so often to learn about their experiences with your IVR. Don’t be alarmed at negative feedback — this is a great opportunity for you to improve your IVR system and meet your customers’ ever-changing expectations.
Let customers choose their communication method.
The modern IVR must accommodate the various communication methods customers use today. Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) offers customers the option to talk on the phone, live chat, or text message, or to review online resources through other menu options. If you receive calls after hours, Web Call-Backs also lets customers schedule a conversation at a later time.
Keep phone menu options simple and short.
Remember when we mentioned customers prefer to speak with a human than a robot? This fact likely won’t change; however, you can make the robotic experience less tiresome by keeping IVR options simple and short.
The main reason customers prefer humans is because that option seems intrinsically faster. However, with simple, short IVR options, customers should feel like they’re saving time. Moreover, simple IVR options ensure customers can easily remember their options without having to listen to the system repeat the entire sequence of options.