If you really want to make a positive change in the perception your clients have when they call-in to your company’s IVR you have to listen to them carefully. Avoid listening to anecdotal accounts of what is working and what is not working. And stop listening to sales pitches from prospective vendors that read “With this NEW IVR you will be able to increase customer satisfaction, and improve productivity”. You don’t need 26 years experience in the IVR business to know, that IVR and a positive customer experience are not necessarily in the same sentence. The primary purpose of IVR is to reduce the cost of handling calls, it’s a lot less expensive than a live agent, it work 24/7 – 365 without benefits, or holidays or sick days, or overtime. IVR does not ask for a raise and in fact is you and every company who uses IVR are always finding ways to pay less for it. IVR is not a means of giving a customer a better customer experience; it’s a means of delivering a cheaper customer experience, when the cost of using a live agent is prohibitive. You may think this is a harsh statement, however after consulting and building 1000’s of IVR applications, in almost all cases it comes down to cost, would you pay the same for IVR as you would for a live agent? Absolutely not. If we agree on this, now let’s focus on how you can make the IVR experience a more positive one, when the use of a live agent doesn’t fit your budget.
- # 1 is to listen to your client (the caller). Use those same IVR surveys you use to measure customer satisfaction after a call with a live agent, to measure customer satisfaction after an IVR self-service call. And be prepared to hear it as it is. Don’t expect the same levels of customer satisfaction, you wont. Be prepared to act on the feedback and share with your clients what you will be doing with this information, (Designing a better, more cost-effective IVR service for you, the client). The biggest mistake companies make is to tell their clients that they are providing them with a self-service system, to improve on the levels of service, and improve customer relations, (your clients are no fools). Fact is it doesn’t, we, (in the industry) know this; however, you can come out straight-out and share with the customer how you plan on making these improvements.
- # 2 – be proactive and tell your customers how you will ensure that their feedback is used to improve on their experience while using the “low cost” self-service options. Your customers want to know that you are taking steps to make their experience a more pleasurable one, tell them how you will be doing this; they will respect you and believe what you have to say.
If you are working on your first IVR project, I have published several guides which will help you successfully execute your project (they are FREE)
To Your Success,
Barnard L. Crespi
Datatel Inc/Datatel Communications Inc.