Interactive Voice Response: How to use it to its Fullest Potential

  • June 1, 2021
  • Author: Keith Young

IVR, short for “Interactive Voice Response,” is a system that you probably come across often in your day-to-day life. 

When you call the local department store, you may be met with a pre-recorded voice that tells you to press a button on your keypad to connect to the department you want. That’s an IVR system. 

What is IVR used for?

IVR is often used to deal with high call volumes. Rather than having a bunch of employees direct calls to the desired extension, IVR enables the clients to direct themselves, saving time and resources.

Such a system seems complicated, but setup is surprisingly easy, with a simple interface that visually displays the path a caller will take through the menus to get to their destination.

Keep reading to find out how you can harness the full power of this tool and use it to its maximum potential!

3 Common IVR pitfalls

IVR can be a powerful solution for your business, but it requires some attention to set up. If the system is set up haphazardly, it can cause serious confusion for your clients. 

There are some common pitfalls that many businesses fall into, making their IVR system a headache to navigate. Fortunately, they’re easy to skip over when you know what you’re doing. Here are the three biggest ones you’ll want to avoid when setting up your IVR system.

1. Too many menu options

If a customer calls and is forced to navigate a maze of menus to get to where they want to be, there’s a good chance they’ll simply hang up and go on with their day.

IVR allows you to have large menus with many levels, but when setting up your system, try to stick to 4-5 options per menu and 2 levels to keep your customers from being overwhelmed and confused.

2. Overly wordy prompts

Avoid long-winded prompts in your IVR menus. Customers will either get bored and hang up or lose track of things and need to hear the prompt again. 

A phrase like “press 1 for customer service” is easy to understand and gets straight to the point – it’s best to go for something along those lines. Always be concise when programming your IVR prompts.

3. No access to live agents

A number of people prefer to talk to a live person rather than navigating a menu. It’s a good idea to offer “connect with a live agent” as an option near the beginning of the IVR menu – or even before the rest of the options are available. This won’t defeat the purpose of your IVR, since most people will use the menu normally. But it’ll really help with those people who want to talk to a real person.

4 More tips for setting up your IVR system

Beyond avoiding common pitfalls, there are many ways you can improve your IVR service and offer a smoother customer experience.

1. Keep things up-to-date

If you set up your system once and never edit it again, you’re probably going to come across problems. Check up on the system every once in a while and make sure everything is in working order. 

Perhaps your business has added a new department, or one has been removed. If a caller presses a button to go there, and they’re met with nothing, that’s a pretty big issue. Regular upkeep ensures that these issues are fixed as soon as they arise.

2. Keep a brief, yet informative intro

When customers call your business, make sure they’re greeted warmly, but don’t leave the message too long. Like the prompts, if your greeting message is too long, people will lose interest before even getting to the menu.

3. Test the system before launch

It’s simple, but make sure you actually test the IVR system before launching it. Try every menu option and make sure it works smoothly. Better to spend the time troubleshooting early than have your customers run into problems later on and potentially lose business. 

4. Offer answers to FAQs

Sometimes, offering answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) as automated messages within the IVR system can get the caller the info they’re looking for – and eliminate the need for person-to-person contact altogether, saving you further resources.

A Powerful Solution for the Successful Business

IVR can enable your business to handle far more traffic than it could possibly handle under ordinary circumstances, and this makes it a valuable asset – one that you’ll want to implement as soon as possible. If you’re interested in using this tool for yourself and your business, get in touch with us today!

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