What is an IVR?

This month I am going to take a look at IVRs.  I am going to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly and also some things to consider when shopping for an IVR.

Let’s start with the basics. What is an IVR? Well first of all, IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response and it is a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and tones input via the keypad.

Put another way; it’s that lovely voice that you hear when you dial a company such as an insurance provider, bank or mobile phone provider that says “Hi, welcome to Pat’s Pie Company, for pies press 1, for desserts press 2 or hold the line if you would like fries sent to your door immediately”.

Now, at this point, you are probably all thinking.  “Oh yeah..those” and we immediately think of some of the not so nice IVRs we have had to ‘deal with’. Weather your experience was good or bad really depends on a few different factors:

As in all situations there are two way of looking at it.  You have the User Experience (UX) and you have the business strategy.

What do customers want and what should their journey be? Coupled with, what can the business afford and what is the right balance of customer service vs cost?

If I put my customer hat on, I would say. “When I call, I want to speak to someone and I want the first person I speak to, to answer my query. I don’t want to have to press 10 buttons to get to where I want to be and I don’t want to be confused as to where my call is within the company. e.g. I don’t want to think that I am talking to accounts but I have the sales team”.

If I put my business hat on, I would say, “The system needs to be slick, professional and smart and direct customers to the right area. It needs to help the customers without them speaking to an agent if possible and it needs to not cost the earth to design, how much money can you save me?”.

Immediately, we are at a bit of an impasse as to the different expectations of both the customer and the business.

If you are considering an IVR or you have one already and you are looking for ways to improve it, here are some tips to help with designing a great customer service tool.

  1. Keep it simple. The more confusion that there is, the longer things take to resolve. Also consider; what is the use of something that is so intricate in detail that only the most elite users can navigate your system?
  2. Make sure you route calls to the correct parts of your business. Customers absolutely hate being transferred from place to place.
  3. Make sure that your announcements (copy) is short and concise and that the action is always at the end. e.g. “To hear about our fantastic services, Press 4”, as opposed to “ Press 4 if you want to hear about our fantastic services”. It may seem like the same thing but the customer is more likely to remember the action and end up in the right area.
  4. Test, test and test your IVR before you launch it! Make sure that when you have the copy recorded, that it flows nicely together.  The voice talent may read the copy as individual scripts but the company intends to run them together. There will be different inflections and it needs to sounds natural. As a listener, it is not very pleasant to listen to a voice that jumps out every time a particular number is said.
  5. While we are on voice talent., consider who will be listening and what voice you want. When I am commissioned to record IVR scripts, I always ask who the audience is. I also ask what the image of the brand is so that I can reflect that in how I speak. For instance, is your brand casual Kiwi or professional and will there be a lot of English as a second language listeners? All of these should dictate how your IVR sounds.

So what can an IVR do for your business?

The common objections I get are “Do I really need one? They seem really bulky and my receptionist does a pretty good job directing the calls where they need to go”

Well yes, the first question is do I need an IVR?  The simple answer is, it’s up to you! But consider what the benefits are and what will it cost?

Let’s look at a case study

John owns a small/medium sized electronics business. He sells electronics and also does repairs, he also has an accounts team and a mobile technician.

John doesn’t have an IVR but he has a receptionist who fields all the calls and is pretty good at directing them to where they need to go. Sometimes the calls come back and they need to be redirected if they aren’t picked up and the receptionist will need to take a message and then tell the person the next time her/she sees them. Typically, this takes up around 40% of the receptionist’s day.

How might an IVR help?  

  1. Well first of all, if set up correctly, the IVR could handle 95%+ of the calls and direct them to the correct area meaning that the receptionist could be freed up to concentrate on other tasks more pertinent to the growth of the company. (I won’t get into the nuts and bolts but long term this could end up saving thousands of dollars).
  2. Professional and consistent messaging – Because the IVR delivers the same consistent message every time, nothing is left out and you can customise a new message for every month or quarter, direct them to a website or even talk about a new product, meaning the receptionist doesn’t have to do the same ‘spiel’ every single time.
  3. Customers are no longer transferred manually to the department they want, they simply press a button and they are talking to Steve or Lauren  in accounts
  4. John can now choose how his company is portrayed simply by how he chooses to set the IVR up.
  5. If John adds another department into the company or Bob from sales has left, then he can easily talk to his voice talent and they can get a recording done pretty quickly.  You can then interchange the recording or add the new recording as an option and you are away.
  6. If something happens in the IVR, you can simply flick a switch and direct calls back to the receptionist, who by the way, is now learning the ins and outs of accounts payable and is helping Lauren and Steve with their pretty hefty work load. 😉

So what should John do? 

Well as I said there is no right/ wrong answer so I’ll leave that up to you. But if you do decide to implement an IVR, or would even like to talk about one – get in touch with us here at Recording Solutions.

Please comment below and tell us what you think.

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