An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is usually the first line of communication for a customer when calling a company. So it’s safe to say that this IVR is the first impression of your business that a potential customer or client will get. Putting it that way makes it seem far more important, doesn’t it? IVR’s are one of the most common things customers complain about. Dealing with confusing menus and recorded messages can be very annoying.
Auto-attendants and IVRs are fairly standard features on hosted PBX systems. If you’ve recently made the switch to VoIP service, you will most likely be faced with the task of setting up your business’ IVR soon. We’ve put together a list of helpful tips to assist you in keeping your IVR simple and clear, resulting in a more satisfied customer base.
1. Keep IVR menus simple and shallow
Avoid making the IVR menus too deep or too complex. No one wants to listen to a litany of recorded instructions. We recommend keeping the menu level (also known as a phone tree) to a maximum of three levels. Any more complexity than that, and customers will feel trapped in IVR hell.
2. Inject some humanity
After listening to a series of menu options and prompts from a soulless, robotic voice, your customer will seek out hearing a friendlier tone. Try using an employee with a cheerful voice for your IVR to give it the human touch.
3. No voicemail dead-ends
What could be more frustrating to customers than going through a series of menu prompts only to end up in someone’s voicemail box? If customers are calling outside of business hours, then they should be sent as quickly as possible to the voicemail of the best person who can help them, if there is no live assistance available.
4. Make menu prompts intuitive
“Press 1 for support” and then, “press 9 for sales.” The menu and call routing workflow should make perfect sense to callers.
5. Ensure messages are recorded at the right speeds and are clear
If using custom messages with an IVR make sure the speaker is articulate and not speaking at a rapid pace, but not as slow as molasses, either.
6.Give a call back choice
We all hate waiting on hold. Many IVRs will allow setting up the option to let callers leave their number so they receive a call back when someone is available to speak with them.
7. Also, give hold choices
Since everyone has to wait on hold every now and then, configure the option for music or silence during hold time. Your customers and business associates may not share your love of smooth jazz.
8. Don’t make frequent menu changes
How many times have you called a company and heard, “Please listen as our menu options may have changed…”? It’s irritating and so prevalent that it’s possible to believe that most businesses are constantly tweaking their IVR menus. Find a menu structure that works and keep changes subtle (and not to the main, introductory menu) to avoid confusing callers.
As employees come and leave the company, or receive title changes, keep the company directory and phone extensions that are tied into the IVR, up-to-date.
10. Create an “other” option
IVR menus should include a general option that callers can select if the other menu options are not a fit for the purpose of their call.
11. Careful with natural language response
Increasingly, IVR systems offer speech recognition for caller input. The technology is not always reliable. It pays to thoroughly test any open-ended speech recognition before deploying it live.
Recorded messages of course, should not cause ear strain or deafness. The general consensus is to keep volume levels between -6 and -9db.