Friday, April 15, 2016

Getting a real person on the phone when you dial a help desk has become more difficult over the years, if not altogether impossible at certain organizations. Instead of employing thousands of operators or customer service reps, the solution for the last 25 years has been interactive voice response systems (IVR), or more commonly, the automated voice you hear just before you’re dropped into the ubiquitous sounds of ‘please hold’ music.

We’ve all been there, and at times it can be a frustrating experience to say the least. So, it’s no surprise that businesses are looking at IVR more critically and discovering new ways to minimize this frustration.

In the past, IVR strategies were designed to assist callers through self-servicing routines; 80 percent of callers were expected to service out of the queue in an effort to minimize cost for the organization. But that’s not great customer service, and people took note of these poor experiences navigating through the IVR.


Today, businesses are learning new ways to assist customers more effectively by taking a personalized look at what customers expect to achieve during these calls.

For starters, many of the calls handled by IVRs are for common, repetitive tasks like making payments or sales support. Effective use of IVR will make these things a priority and ensure that a customer can get to these features quickly and effectively without dialing through a maze of options.

But that’s not all; IVRs are also offering new ways to help set up automated payments and support, which can eliminate a need for similarly routine calls in the future.

Limiting Wait Time

Long wait times are another frustration commonly mentioned by callers. The best way to smooth out these problems is to automate a portion of the caller’s identification process or account info before he or she gets on the phone with a representative. This limits the time a caller spends with a rep on the phone, and better prepares the rep for the incoming call. This is also a great opportunity to use intelligent routing, which enables the IRV to connect the caller with the rep best suited to help.

Organizations with effective IVR have also begun to implement a new strategy, offering users a ‘call back’ from a representative. This is customer service at its finest, and allows callers to avoid long wait times altogether while providing a truly personalized experience on the caller’s own time.

Less Is More

Lastly, IVRs with too many options or menus that fold in on themselves have been proven least effective at servicing customers with an IVR. Always offer callers a way to get out of the automation loop, and always provide callers with a way to move forward to speak with an actual person.

There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in an IRV after time has already been invested in the call. This is when calls are commonly dropped; for some, it might mean never calling back again. Always give callers a clear way out and a clear way in, so they can find the answers they need without a headache.

IVRs working in the 21st century should implement all of these frustration-reducing tactics to improve their customers’ journeys on the phone.