Contact Center Transformation Featured Article
Boosting the Quality of Your IVR Can Keep Customers While Reducing Costs
September 26, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Let’s face it: live support from the contact center isn’t cheap. Most people take it for granted, but each time we pick up the phone and get a live agent at the other end, we’re racking the company’s costs: the cost of labor for the agent, plus recruitment, hiring and training; the cost of the telephone call; and even wear and tear on equipment (as negligible as that might be for a single phone call, multiplied by thousands of calls a day, it adds up).
For most companies, the goal is to drive down the number of callers into the contact center, either by offering a product or service that generates no complaints or questions or by encouraging customers to solve their own problems via self-service. While the former idea (building a perfect product) may be in the realm of fantasyland, the latter idea isn’t so far-fetched.
For starters, though, a contact center hoping to drive more customers into self-service must make sure it has good self-service resources. West Interactive’s (News - Alert) Kristine Braun recently blogged on the topic of improving self-service via the interactive voice response (IVR) system, identifying four major steps companies should take to accomplish it.
Step number one involves boosting the quality of the self-service resources, according to Braun, and making sure your IVR is well designed and operates flawlessly.
“You can force your customers to use self-service by ensuring that your customer’s experience within the IVR matches or is better than your assisted customer experience,” she writes. “Customers are looking for convenience and avenues to save time.”
In other words, customers like self-service, but often shy away from it because they perceive they won’t be able to find the answers they require. Ensuring that they can successful help themselves is a sure-fire way to reduce traffic to live agents.
Step number two involves ensuring that if customers are intrepid enough to use your self-service solution, if they don’t find the answer they need, they can easily escalate to a live agent – Otherwise, they will likely never use your self-service again.
Step three, says Braun, involves making sure your customers know there are high-quality self-service channels available. After all, they won’t use what they don’t know about. Promote your self-service processes in every way possible.
Finally, says Braun, you need to measure the results you’re getting from your IVR so you can spot problems quickly.
“Design and build reporting metrics for every voice prompt, every timeout, every hang-up and every invalid response within your IVR,” she writes. “These reports will show you instantly if customers don’t understand what information the IVR needs to process their request.”
To make an IVR solution work best for you, ensure your system isn’t outdated. The IVRs of today, hosted and premise-based, are far easier to configure and test than those of the past. Be sure your system reflects your customers’ needs today, not what they needed five years ago, the last time the IVR systems was updated.
Edited by Blaise McNamee
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