IVR Best Practices for Enterprises

[24]7.ai | April 26, 2019

“Your call is very important to us…”

Indeed, every call you receive should be important to your business. All calls are customers or potential ones at least. Are these leads greeted with an automated robotic voice, a confusing system, and offered a vast menu of options? Does your customer really feel important interacting with the automated voice on the line?

On episode 9 of Solving for CX, our guest is Allison Smith, a noted voice actor who specializes in voicing telephone systems. Allison is an authority on IVR best practices to ensure your phone system accurately reflects your brand and offers the ideal customer experience. Learn how to leverage the potential benefits of Interactive Voice Response, or an IVR system, as Allison discusses her work with companies from small businesses to Fortune 500 organizations, reviewing trends and best practices.

IVR Best Practices: The Brand Voice

Interactive Voice Response (IVR automation) allows computers to interact with humans through the use of voice. While you might be giving much thought to how your brand identity is reflected in your marketing materials, social media captions, and website photography, how much thought have you given to the voice that your customers hear when they call?

Begin with identifying the caller. Who are they? To understand who your caller is, you need to understand your target market. One way to approach this is to review the persona research about your customers that is available, and to play to their age; elderly callers are likely to prefer a slower system, while a younger caller may be impatient with slow prompts.

For the funky, fun, and irreverent brand, you will want a voice that is warm and friendly. A spa for women might open with a greeting like, “Hey girl!” while a serious brand will likely want a more formal tone, and simple greetings.

Keep in mind; there is an opportunity here as well. If you're working to change the perception of your brand, the tone of your IVR voice can have an impact. A bank might want to appear less intimidating, as they work to encourage their younger clients to invest. In this instance, a bank could leverage using a warm and approachable character in their phone systems.

IVR Best Practices: The Experience

“We know your time is valuable…”

It's time to begin thinking about how your brand is reflected in the experiences your customers have while interacting with your technology. It's not just about the identity; it's also about how thoughtful the experiences are. Though you might be anxious to get your new IVR system up and running, be sure to take time to fully consider what a client is experiencing as they move through the prompts. Approach planning your system with empathy, starting with the various reasons for calls. Work from your customer's needs "in," rather than starting with what you're trying to put "out."

Humans take on moods or cadence from the other humans with whom they're interacting. While it's certain that being efficient is important, prompts that are only designed to route callers and aren't interesting to listen to and can be frustrating for callers as they lose focus or get distracted. Listenable and human-like phrasing will create a better experience, ultimately imitating a conversational relationship with the artificial intelligence. Put simply: avoid the temptation to replicate the same-old phone system prompts you’ve heard for years.

Keep it Simple

The process of designing a phone system should set out with the idea in mind that your caller is frustrated. Imagine they’ve spent time trying to find the answers to their inquiry already, through a variety of methods. Eventually, they've visited your website, and are now to the point that they’ve set aside time in their day to resolve their issue by phone. By the time they’re calling you, the last thing they need is to be met with a lengthy and confusing menu, filled with dozens of similar-sounding options.

Your opening menu is where they land first. Best practice in setting up your opening greeting is to keep the caller's choices limited to five; sub-directories should have no more than three options. A simple menu with clear choices helps your customer navigate more quickly, reducing their frustration with each natural interaction.

In sum, the more efficiently you can assist this caller, the more human-like the interaction, the better the overall experience for them. A best-case outcome is their frustrating experience ending in a satisfying resolution.

“Thank you for calling, goodbye.”

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