4 Steps to Implementing an IVR System Your Customers Will Appreciate

When implemented properly, an interactive voice response (IVR) system can help bridge the gap between a human hello and overwhelming menus.

Most customers pick up the phone to call for assistance as a last resort. When they do, they’re hoping to reach a live person to help them resolve their issue as quickly as possible. However, staffing a call center to provide human support for every call is tough to do.

Luckily, interactive voice response (IVR) systems can bridge the gap between a human hello and an overwhelming menu of solutions. IVR technology has surpassed the antiquated phone menus of yesterday, making it a great option to consider as you make process improvements. With IVR, you can provide streamlined and cost-effective service customers will love.

1. Identify the top reasons for calls.

Before you launch your IVR, it’s important to have a good understanding of why your customers are calling. Review your monthly reports for the last year to get an understanding of seasonal spikes and repeat inquiries. Log hard numbers for your findings so you can make data-driven decisions.

Collaborate with your voice-of-the-customer team to access qualitative data, which is often full of valuable insight. Front-line representatives can also provide color to an otherwise black-and-white data story.

Once you’ve gathered this intel, categorize it based on product type, issue, and significance. System inquiries like log-in assistance, navigation, and other technical calls may be related across products. Add tags to your log to identify which bucket or buckets your call reasons may reside in.

2. Think like your customer.

You may think it’s easy to brainstorm the most common reasons a customer would call your organization. But when you’re so close to the business, it’s hard to see clearly. Instead, review your customer satisfaction surveys for key indicators of pain points and opportunities.

Once you’ve reviewed the data you already own, collaborate with your social media managers to identify hidden feedback mines. Facebook Messenger chats, comments on posts, and publicly shared mentions can sound an alert for issues or potential enhancements. Frequently, frustrated customers will share their sentiments with their followers, even tagging the offending institution.

Ideally, companies like yours will step in and work to resolve the issue while it’s relevant. If you’re spotting missed opportunities after the fact, don’t fail twice by ignoring them again.

Take stock of customer service issues that appear not to have been resolved through direct support from your organization. Pair this insight with more formally gathered data like customer satisfaction surveys, third-party research, and sales team data. Simulate your customer’s experience throughout your sales and existing customer life cycles, taking note of gaps before they do.

3. Create a robust implementation and training plan.

Any organizational project is doomed without an implementation and training plan. Set your IVR sights on success with a well-thought-out plan before you launch.

Include key team members in your IVR project to ensure you have subject matter experts integrated from day one. Without representation from the business, you can quickly get off course and implement a product that isn’t useful to your teams.

If you have call center trainers, work with them to align your IVR training with current processes. If you don’t, review the resources provided by your IVR vendor and compare them against industry best practices. Resist the urge to invent a new process when those devised by experts are available.

Generally, implementation support is available through your vendor. You can even get access to peer group case studies, which can further support your project. Be aware of competing priorities and other projects within your organization. Equip your managers with tools to support the implementation and information that can help them answer questions during employee meetings.

4. Measure what matters.

Most organizations measure success using key performance indicators. While most priorities center around sales figures and customer satisfaction, understanding how IVRs can influence them is important.

Assess your current practices and take time to sit with both your analytics and customer service teams. You’ll likely gain valuable information from both customer-facing and data-centric colleagues.

Identify crossover metrics and opportunities by paying close attention to web searches and social media conversations. Self-service FAQs online can indicate gaps in your IVR and its effectiveness. Use your findings to enhance your IVR and its relevance so your customers can continue to experience great service.

Employ customer personas to provide color to metrics-based conversations, using real-life scenarios and experiences as examples. While a dynamic bar chart is pleasing to the eye, don’t discount the power of stories.

Dip into IVR recordings to learn how your customers prompt the system. When they eventually are routed to a representative, follow the conversations and their resolutions. This intentional approach toward measurement and analysis can help you build and edit an IVR system that delights.

Remember that excellent customer service is always paramount, no matter the method.

It’s important to remember that customer service centers exist for the benefit of the customer. With high call volumes, organizations need to adapt to support the needs of their customers, using tech solutions as needed.

Adding an IVR system can help you provide targeted call resolutions quickly. Your customers will get the solutions to their problems fast, while your call center staff can focus on more in-depth issues. Over time, your IVR system will learn your customers’ needs, enabling your organization to adapt in a way that surprises and delights.

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