Questions? Call Us: +1 (800) 750 6878

Contact Us

Leave Us A Message Below

13 Tips To Help You Design IVR Menus Better than the Pros

IVR technology is a great concept. An automated phone menu can provide useful information, route calls to the most qualified support person, and even completely automate simple tasks without ever reaching a live agent. So why is it we keep hearing people swearing and moaning as they recount their latest encounter with ‘a machine’?

When not properly executed, automation can become a source of frustration—and sadly the worst offenders are often those big and well-established organizations we, as small business owners, have learned to look up to and take example from. So many of us naively follow in their footprints and perpetuate the very mistakes that got callers plunking out hair—all in the name of enhancing customer service.

Fortunately, planning and executing an effective IVR menu design is really not all that complicated, and these simple tips will have you doing it better than the pros:

  1. Make a clear distinction between information lines and customer support numbers. The first provide automated information (such as transit schedules, tourist information, etc), while the second may provide information but also route calls to live agents. That’s a big distinction, so make sure you advertise the number accordingly. This will ensure people call with the right expectations, making life easier on both ends of the line.

  2. Keep the number of options to a minimum. The figures commonly tossed around are 4-5 at the most. You’d do well shooting for 3. Now, you may point out that some big conglomerates use more, and you’ll be right. But how many of us actually had a good experience calling such companies? Usually the experience is anything BUT positive, and the main reason we stick with them is we don’t really have an alternative (or the alternatives are just as bad). Since your small business hasn’t likely gained such indispensability, you’ll have to work twice as hard to keep customers happy. Because happy customers don’t call the competition.

    Of course, if you’ve done your best to minimize options and you still end up with more, go ahead and use them—this is just a guideline. But your motto should be: the fewer the better.

    • Group items under broad categories and branch out from there. A short root menu with several sub-menus can be much easier to navigate than a single loooonngg menu.

    • Leave complicated tasks to a live agent. Avoid over-automating. If a customer calls with a complex task better get him quickly to someone that can help rather than frustrate him with an IVR overload.

  3. Position common queries first so that as many callers can find what they need as quickly as possible.

  4. Keep prompts short. People can only listen to pre-recorded options for so long before frustration kicks in. Keep things clear, direct, and to the point. You may want to check out our Tips to Help You Record IVR Voice Prompts Like a Pro for some pointers

  5. Don’t forget to leave a way back from sub-menus. Nothing is more frustrating than reaching a dead-end, then having to hang up and call back again.

  6. Include an option to have the prompts repeated. Some people are not as quick as others on the uptake, or may simply get distracted. Make it easy for them to replay your message. If possible, include both the option to go back just a little bit, and to restart right from the top.

  7. Don’t force customers to be polite when interacting with a machine. Patience can be a hard enough virtue to maintain with real people, let alone with an automated service. If your customers know where they need to go and make a selection in mid-sentence—don’t force them to sit through. Skip the recoding and move on (A.I. hasn’t reached the point yet where it might take things personally)

  8. Leave a clear path to a live agent. If the number is listed as customer service number, make sure there’s indeed a person at the end of that pipeline. Otherwise, list it as an info line. (You might want to check out these Seven Deadly Sins of IVR)

  9. Ask only for information you’ll actually require, and use it effectively. We’ve all experienced the frustration of calling a credit-card company and going through the hassle of inputting our card number, expiration code, etc—only to be asked for the same information again when connected to an agent. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

    CRM integration can help ensure all relevant information is recorded and effectively shared between team members, so customers aren’t repeatedly asked the same questions.

  10. Voice Recognition technology keeps getting better all the time, and incorporating it can certainly increase convenience. Just keep in mind that it’s not flawless and accuracy tends to decrease when used with mobile devices. You’d use it to supplement your touch-tone interface, not to replace it.

  11. Let your employees test-drive your system before it goes live and ask them to provide you with honest feedback. They’ll be able to catch things early on before they become a problem. Plus, familiarity with the calling process will help them later when dealing with customers.

  12. Consider implementing surveys to get first-hand responses straight from your customers. This can lead to some great improvements and, at the same time, show your customers that you care about their experience. You can hire a company to do this for you, or use a service like Survey Monkey and do it yourself.

  13. Find out if your system keeps record of call routing and take time to investigate where customers got stuck, where they had to go back, what prompts they had to repeat, how long they spent resolving an issue, where drop-outs occurred, etc. These can indicate troublesome areas with your system and suggest future design improvements.

Keeping these things in mind when you plan your IVR menu will help you design a simple, user-friendly structure that will make calling support a source of solace rather than frustration to your customers—which is as it should be.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Maty Grosman @ 4:34 PM