There are many complaints on social media sites on how complex it is to navigate through an IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) menu when trying to contact the customer service team. However if you properly design the IVR application then it can benefit both the customer and the organization.
Firstly, what exactly is #IVR? There are 2 basic levels of an IVR, the first is where it is used to filter a customer’s call to ensure that the call is sent through to a customer service agent who has the appropriate skills to hopefully answer the enquiry accurately ensuring a high percentage of first time call resolution; let’s call this a menu-based IVR. The second IVR design is to allow a customer to self-serve i.e. fulfil their enquiry without needing to speak to an agent.
Menu-based IVR: The general problem with the design of this form of IVR is that the menu tree is too deep and the customer gets lost navigating. Ideally there should only be 2 levels of menu with a maximum of 5 options on each level; if this is not sufficient to route a customer call to the team with the correct skills, then your organization is too complex! At the end of the menu options there should be some form of reference on how to be directed to the general inbound queue in case the options do not satisfy the customer’s enquiry. If a customer has entered a menu selection then when the call is routed to an agent with the appropriate skills to handle this selection the agent should be notified on their terminal what options a customer has entered. There is nothing more annoying as a customer than being asked “How can I help you today” when you have already selected the option “I wish to know the balance in my account”, for example. This ideally should be coupled with caller line identification #CLI which in conjunction with computer telephony integration #CTI should allow an agent to have all details about the customer on their screen before the call is answered by referencing the enterprise Customer Relationship Management#CRM system.
Therefore in the following example the process would be as follows:
- Mr Richards calls into a mobile operator’s contact centre.
- He selects option 3 – Enquire about a new product
- Then option 2 – New contract
- The IVR assesses that the skills that the agent should have are selling + mobile contracts
- The call is put into the queue until an agent with the appropriate skills are available (appropriate messages should be played to avoid silence but most importantly where the customer is in the queue & what the expected average wait time will be)
- As the agent becomes available then their mobile contract screen should be launched displaying all history about Mr Richards within their organization and the fact that he has selected “new mobile contract” from the menu options
- The agent should then be able to answer the call “Good morning Mr Richards, my name is John, I see that you are interested in discussing a new mobile contract” ……many seconds saved & a personal touch is added.
- The CLI is not possible however if this is a new customer or the number is blocked but the agent still knows what this new customer wants to discuss.
The other area that should be avoided if you operate a contact centre that offers different language options is an agent answering the phone in a language that the customer has not selected! I live in Belgium currently and nothing annoys me more than having selected the option to speak English then the agent answering the call in Flemish – like the required service selection, the choice of language should be shown to an operator.
By following the above simple steps then the Customer Experience can be greatly improved and the following benefits realized:
- Improved First Time Call Resolution #FTR by ensuring that the agent with the most appropriate skills answers the calls
- Reduced Average Call Handling Time #AHT by not having to ask the customer their name or what they want to discuss
- A 360° view of the customer’s interactions within your organization through all channels – you then know if there are any pain points
- The customer is not asked to repeat any of the information that they have already entered into the IVR, thereby increasing their satisfaction
Remember CSAT = ESAT (Customer Satisfaction = Employee Satisfaction)
In my next article I will describe the design considerations of implementing a new voice self-service solution & the benefits to the customer & organisation.
(All views expressed are my own and do not represent those of any organization I work for)