Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Interactive Voice Response (IVR) provides the solution for small businesses whose growth suddenly exceeds expectation. Quicker and far cheaper to implement than training a team of agents to personally handle every singly call, IVR does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to day to day administration. 


IVR is often the bete noir of customers who object to the way it its typically used. If you’re considering setting up an IVR system for your business, avoid these common mistakes in order to get the most out of the technology - and to keep your customers happy:


1) Lengthy Pre-amble

When callers engage with an IVR system, they want to cut to the chase as quickly as possible. Avoid giving them a huge spiel about your business, or lecturing them on what information they should have to hand when the call is answered. It’s annoying and gets their relationship with your brand off to a bad start.


2) Unnecessary Menu Options

Keep the options to a bare minimum. Ultimately, most callers prefer to speak to an agent, so if you have several options that lead to the same place, do away with most of them. The shorter the process, the happier the customer.


3) Repeating the Same On-Hold Message

Listening to the same message every twenty seconds is frustrating. If the average wait time is three minutes, try to feature at least three different messages during that time. A bit of variety can help minimize the sensation of being stuck in a loop - a frequent complaint from IVR users.


4) Annoying Music

Similarly, getting the right music is an important part of keeping callers onside when they’re waiting to speak to someone. It should reflect your brand image, and preferably be longer than a thirty second loop. If you can use a long piece of music that never repeats during the average call, your customers won’t go loopy!


5) Ignoring Prior Interactions

So often overlooked, a customer’s prior interactions are an immensely valuable source of information. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t go down too well with loyal customers who may have spent thousands on your business. Establish a separate, personalized line for regular customers. If possible, allow them to bypass the IVR altogether and go straight to an agent.


6) Not Providing an Easy Exit

It’s all too easy to make a mistake when using an IVR system. Allow for this, giving callers an out at each stage of the process. Having to hang up and call again is frustrating, and if the customer is getting irritated, they may not bother at all.

7) Using Industry Jargon

Don’t use jargon known only to industry insiders. It can be hard to remember how specialized your business is, so get someone who knows nothing about your industry to test your IVR system for accessibility.


8) Forgetting the End-to-End Journey

Don’t approach any one part of your customers’ journey as an isolated metric. Consider the overall experience, from greeting to menu options to in-queue music and messages: how do they fit with the rest of the user experience? Does the information and brand message tally with your website and mailouts? Every aspect of your customer engagement has to be ‘of a piece’ so that people know who they’re dealing with. Providing a sense of consistency is crucial to projecting a positive, reliable brand image.