Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 characteristics of a good IVR system in a call center

Browsing on Quora, I came across a question

IVR : everyone hates IVR's , wonder if anyone thought to visulize them instead listening to these long and complicate recordings? We only want to speak with someone ... Not to a machine

That started me thinking about the reason why in general, people hate IVRs.

A good IVR should not make you hate it :)

The main reason why people hate IVRs is because they are not well designed. Unfortunately, not many people

design good IVRs. Just as a badly designed web site will lose a prospective customer, a badly designed IVR also leads to a lot of heartburn. Studies have shown that more than 80% people with a bad IVR experience will stop giving business to the company and more than 70% will spread the bad news through word of mouth. So it is imperative that companies spend time and thought on designing their IVRs. In-spite of this, we have found that most companies provide an IVR as an after thought which does more harm than good.

But a well designed IVR is really useful. Remember, customers are calling your hotline to get some information. The main reason is not to talk to someone as the question above indicates. They want to talk to someone because customers believe that people can solve their problems better. But if they call and find their answer in an IVR, they will be just as happy. If the IVR is intelligent enough to recognize you, do a database dip and and answer your query automatically(like playing the status of your order etc), then you would not need to talk to a person also and you would still be happy.

So, based on our experience with call centers in India, we have come out with the following 5 characteristics that every IVR system should have.

1. Recognize your customer

This is by far the most important one. When a caller calls and you welcome them by name, you show that you care. You start of on a good note and the caller gets a little bit more confidence on the IVR system. Without this, the caller thinks the IVR is just a dumb system and will start looking for the option to connect to an agent.

2. Recognize context

If I have called your IVR earlier and asked a question and you have an answer to my question, the next time I call, the IVR should recognize the state and give the correct contextual answer to me rather than asking me repeat the question.

3. Provide default options

A customer should never be lost in an IVR. He should always be able to go back to previous menu, go to the top menu or talk to an agent directly. These are the bare minimum. Also, you should have fallbacks for touch-tones and allow a caller multiple tries for entering the tones.

4. Route caller to correct agent and pass info to the call center

After collecting caller information, select the proper department/specialist and route the call to that location so that the caller can talk to the corresponding expert immediately. 

5. Support multiple languages

India is a land of many languages.So, provide options to callers to choose their language of choice. More importantly, remember their choice so that the next time they call, they are welcomed in their language of choice.