Customers reach out to your contact center for myriad reasons: to purchase or return a product, to receive service or lodge a complaint on a previously purchased good or service, to change their account settings, to solve a technical issue, to ask a question, to make a payment, to ask a complex question to a service representative… the list could go on and on.
Being able to customize IVR (interactive voice response) call flows could mean the difference between a satisfied customer or an abandoned call. Contact centers must organize and structure their IVR call flow to meet the unique needs of every customer while ensuring a streamlined experience that taps into the resources of your center efficiently and effectively.
But where to begin?
The following guidelines will help you learn to customize IVR call flows and provide advanced routing options that will best serve the diverse and complex needs of your customers.
Stepping into your customers’ shoes
Atticus Finch, a character in the beloved modern American classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, says, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” The same goes for understanding your customer.
Gain perspective by imagining what needs your customer is calling with and what he/she wants and expects from the call.
Then, start making a list of potential customer needs. This will be the initial brainstorming step to customize IVR call flows.
Organizing tiers of customer needs
Once you have a list of potential customer needs, grouping these by category is a good first step to structuring the call flow. Categories could include sales, account information, technical support, and customer service, to name a few. Collect items from your customer needs list into these broad categories. Then, take each group and sub-divide again.
For example, under the general heading of “account information,” you could divide into “make changes to my account” and “make a payment on my account”; then, under “make changes to my account, you could divide into “reset my password” or “add a new user to my account.” By organizing customer needs into tiers, you’ll be able to keep touchtone menu lists brief, resulting in quicker, clearer navigation for your customers.
Mapping out call flows visually
At this point, your list may have become a bit complicated. Laying your call flows out visually will help you to bring together a sense of the overall picture. There is software available to help customize IVR call flows, and much of this software includes drag-and-drop visual maps of how the customers will progress through the tiered menus.
Many experts recommend limiting your IVR system to 2-3 menu levels so as not to tax your customers’ patience, so look for opportunities to combine or condense options to achieve as much simplicity as possible.
Advanced re-routing options
Once you are satisfied with the overall structure of your IVR call flow, it’s time to look for dead ends that your customers may encounter and anticipate re-routing opportunities to resolve these.
For example, a customer may have progressed through the menu to the point of making a payment on his or her account, only to discover that he/she has forgotten the required password or PIN to do so. At this point, an option can be inserted to bring the customer back to the broader category of account settings where the option to reset his/her password is available.
Don’t forget to add the option for customers to exit the IVR system and speak to a live representative, especially as they branch into more and more specific tiers of the menu.
Developing the language
Having done your utmost to anticipate every need of your customers and every route he/she can take to achieve a solution, it’s now time to develop the language customers will hear along the way.
Make sure that the wording and tone of voice align with your company brand. Keep instructions simple and clear.
If possible, consider soliciting the feedback of actual customers, not just call center managers and agents, to determine how your wording and tone are perceived and how they could be made clearer and more pleasant.
Implementation and testing
Task completion rate (TCR) is the standard metric to evaluate IVR systems. Successful completion of a task means that the customer either completed the task successfully using the automated system and then hung up, or the customer used to system to navigate to a qualified agent who helped them achieve their task. Obviously, the former presents a much higher potential ROI (return on investment) than the latter. The global average TCR is said to be 78%, although this varies widely by industry.
Monitoring exit points
Perhaps even more useful than measuring TCR is monitoring where and why customers leave your IVR system. How many customers leave the IVR having accomplished the task they set out to do? How many abandon the call out of frustration? Where and when are these unsuccessful abandonments taking place? Using your CRM software in conjunction with your customized IVR software can help you track this important data and use this information to make valuable changes to your IVR structure and design.
Self-service is a current customer service trend, and providing the right system by which customers can help themselves has the potential to free up agents, keep queues manageable, and make customers happy.