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Three Easy Ways to Make Your IVR Less Painful

Posted on  18 January 14  by 

Comment (4)

We’ve all been there.  Endless circles, no clear directions on how to get out, choices that are appealing but aren’t quite what you’re looking for.  No, I’m not talking about your last trip to Ikea.  I’m talking about IVR h*ll.

Let’s face it: even if you have the best IVR around, your customers probably inwardly groan as soon as they hit your intro message.  What I’ve found in helping companies with IVR design is usually some very quick fixes exist to help alleviate at least some of the pain that customers associate with the IVR.

According to CEB data, the two statistically significant drivers of customers experience related to the IVR are speed and ease of use.  Customers are saying to you, “make it quick and painless, please!”  Just like our work on customer effort in the live phone channel – eliminating unnecessary effort is the key. 

With that in mind, here are three tips to address common IVR opportunities:

  1. Forget “please and thank you” (and other extraneous words): Following the customer plea of “make it quick”, review your IVR scripts for unnecessary words.  Customers will not hear a difference between “please press one” and “press one,” and this is a very simple way to start shaving seconds off the IVR.   One company we’ve worked with reduced word count by 40% after realizing how verbose their script was.
    Here’s a test: can you reasonably read through the script without running out of breath?
  2. Put your call recording disclaimers last:  This one is particularly salient for those of you who do not record the IVR interaction or have a sizeable amount of IVR self-service functions.  If the customer never reaches the point where the call would be recorded, they don’t need to hear the disclaimer.
    And if the IVR interaction is not recorded, help get the customer through the IVR process before letting them know the call may be recorded (in other words, make it an in-queue announcement).
  3. Skip en masse authentication: Are there some calls for which you do not need to identify callers?  Separate these callers from the rest and spare them the unnecessary step of (for example) entering an account number to obtain your mailing address.
    In the same vein, do not ask customers to enter information in the IVR only to have them repeat the same thing to reps.  If your reps must perform live authentication, either have them use a different piece of account knowledge or do not authenticate in the IVR.

What are your quick fixes for IVR h*ll?  I know everyone has an opinion here!

CEB Customer members, be sure to visit our IVR Resource Center to learn more about our advice for effective IVR design and to view a collection of your peers’ IVR trees.

Oh, and don’t get me wrong about Ikea.  I go, I get lost, and I come home with something new that I love.  If only such a love–hate relationship were possible for customers using the IVR!

Comments from the Network (4)

  1. Mike Donovan
    on June 9, 2010

    The please and thank you were new to me.
    Again something new learned.

  2. Customer Service Buzz » Learn from Customers’ IVR Pet Peeves
    on September 1, 2010

    [...] Make Your IVR Less Painful – Taken from an earlier post from Lauren, “the two statistically significant drivers of [...]

  3. Customer Service Buzz » I.V.R. = K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly)
    on October 11, 2010

    [...] 3)      Keep it simple, (silly)– Believe it or not, there are still IVRs with menus that stretch to seven or eight or more options in a single menu!  Solution?  Just create a four-by-four or five-by-five menu that allows your customers to achieve the resolution that s/he came looking for or get to a human being who can help.  This straightforward approach will boost the customer experience by giving customers what they want most: ease of doing business.  And for other “KISS” principles check out my colleague’s recent post on IVR pet peeves.  [...]

  4. Customer Service Buzz » Your Guide to Deciphering Acronyms
    on March 9, 2011

    [...] IVR: interactive voice response (the automated phone menu everyone loves to hate) [...]

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