The IVR is often the first introduction that customers have of a company. Since first impressions are everything, there should be care in making the right programming selections to ensure ease of navigation for those that access a system. The IVR is a technology tool that, when programmed well, can be one of the best representations of a company and the services it provides.
Below you will find a few recommended concepts as ‘best practices’. These should be reviewed with both upper management and all departments that will be involved within the IVR functionality.
In the Beginning:
Carefully consider the voice-tree of your IVR before you begin the programming and implementation process. It’s suggested that you create a visual concept and get feedback from the various departments whose resources will be used in the IVR technology. The information can be a critical piece of making sure that all areas and concerns are addressed and that the staff can accommodate any non-automated situations.
Discuss multi-lingual options with your provider to see what is available. In many cases, the technology will allow you to record your own if you have the voice talent. There also may be preset recordings for specific languages that are already set up as a default. Voice talent for the overall recordings may be available through your provider, or you may wish to select a staff member that is familiar to customers. It may be the person who has functioned as the company operator.
Limit your initial digit selections to a maximum of ‘7’. The recommended number is through the use of ‘1 through 5’. People will lose the message and forget the prompts after 7, and it can cause frustration when they have to start all over.
Keep it simple:
Your service offerings may have sophisticated levels, but more than three sublevels within an IVR tree digit selection can cause irritation for someone accessing your system.
Always have a ‘dial 0’ option. This is crucial for customer service circumstances where issues may not be addressed within the IVR tree selections, but also for those that are not comfortable using an automated service.
Integration and Call Transfer Testing:
Confirm the transfers to make sure the calls go to the correct individuals or departments. Another aspect of this is to make sure the critical staff numbers are not call forwarded to each other. This will cause a ‘call loop’ which brings the caller back to a location or the beginning of the IVR tree choices.
If you use the IVR to transfer calls to a call center for departments such as technical support or customer service, it is always recommended to use a ‘round robin’ programming scenario that will bypass those that are listed as busy or unavailable and go to the next member in the cycle. Discuss the phone options available to your telecommunications technician for voice mail situations when all lines are busy or to limit the number of times the system will rotate.
Test-Test-Test: Confirm that the integration functions flawlessly. Since the integration involves access to various pieces of data, work with your providers to accomplish as many test situations as possible.
Once you have the system set up make sure of those that are outside of the company to receive feedback on ease of use and navigation. The opinion of someone that is not directly involved will assist in finding areas that you may have missed and will give you a gauge as to how user-friendly the system is.