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Eight Ways to Smooth Out Your Clunky Call Experience Before the Holidays Hit

While there’s plenty of singing about sleigh bells ringing during the holidays, businesses typically are more focused on their phones ringing. Yet, sales and marketing success requires callers to have a seamless, individualized experience when they dial for assistance.

The time to consider the caller experience isn’t when we’re in the final countdown to the holiday season. Actually, ensuring an optimal experience is something that should be a focus 365 days a year. The following are eight ways to help make sure your callers are both successful and impressed when they call your number.

1. Confirm the Validity of IVR Prompts

This one tip may seem obvious, but it’s worth placing at the top of this list for good reason. IVR prompts that direct callers to the wrong resource, or (gasp) a never-ending loop of more prompts and time on hold, are surprisingly common. Shopping your own IVR is a great way to delve into the true caller experience and identify confusing call flows, bottlenecks and downright wrong information. Test each prompt to ensure it’s directing to the right resource –whether that’s a live agent or a self-service option.

2. Polish IVR Scripts

The pre-holiday season is an ideal time to review IVR scripts. This includes prompts, as well as greetings, self-service instructions and hold messages. It sends a negative, confusing message if callers are still hearing about that “back-to-school” promotion when it’s December. And, erroneous information, such as incorrect hours, wrong addresses or outdated product or service information can send potential customers straight to your competition.

Before the holiday rush, take the time to update all recordings, including current promotions. Consider adding a holiday greeting and holiday-themed hold messages that are aligned with your brand’s image. Don’t forget to include any special holiday hours or days that impact your callers’ ability to obtain the assistance they are seeking.

3. Improve Self-Service Options

The holidays are a busy time for your customers. They dread extended waits on hold and being transferred repeatedly to get the assistance they are seeking. Through today’s advanced IVR technology, you can give callers the option of fast, simplified self-service for a growing number of interactions, from order status and account information to scheduling appointments and providing feedback.

4. Ensure That Customers Can Shift from Self-Service to a Live Agent Efficiently

Most customers and prospects start their journeys on a self-service channel, whether that’s a website, social media channel or a self-service app through an IVR. Often, they can obtain the answers and assistance they require without having to speak with a live agent. And, these interactions can be both convenient and cost-effective. However, when an interaction requires escalation, it’s important that the individual has a simplified way to shift from self-service to a live agent without having to start a completely new interaction.

The newest IVR solutions are integrated with other aspects of the customer experience. So, information about the customer can be routed to an agent. This minimizes the need for the customer to repeat details and speeds up the time to successfully complete their interaction.

5. Get Callers Where They Want to Go Faster

AI-powered IVR applications have taken the guesswork out of determining caller intent. Now, you can give callers the ability to tell you what they want to do in their own words, eliminating red tape, repeated transfers and extended hold times. In other words, you can get them to the right self-service app or agent that can best help them. With AI determining caller intent, callers are routed faster, more accurately and without the frustrations that lead to increased churn.

6. Leverage Call Data and Analytics

Your IVR holds a wealth of information that can enable you to improve your overall customer experience. By monitoring voice applications, you can identify key areas for improvement and make the changes needed for optimization. Call data can be used to identify points of failure, how callers interact with apps, and technical performance. It also enables you to execute A/B testing of call flows which can improve SLAs and ultimately customer satisfaction.

7. Prepare Agents

For most businesses, the holiday season means increased call volumes and busy days for agents. To enable them to be their most successful during this hectic time of the year, it’s important to ensure they have all the tools and training they need to efficiently and effectively handle calls. Simplified dashboards, up-to-date product and service information and easy-to-use hardware are all necessities. As well, they depend on accurate routing of calls and motivation and encouragement to keep them satisfied in their very important, frontline roles.

During rush times, it’s also important to ensure you have sufficient manpower to handle an increased volume of callers. This not only shows respect to your customers’ time but also to your staff.

8. The Call Experience Is Important All Year Long

The holiday season is important,and for many, it’s the time when profits are made. However,brands and loyal customers are built over time throughout the year. So, the call experience should be an important and closely monitored piece of any corporate customer engagement plan. By keeping the customer’s needs in mind, as well as your business requirements, you can go a long way toward creating an experience that supports your long-term success.

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