Spring Cleaning for Your IVR Leads to Blooming Customer Relationships

The first hint of spring is in the air! And that means a customer service professional’s thoughts turn to… a solid spring cleaning for your contact center’s customer experience processes. A complete review of each customer journey is necessary to ensure the details are all up to date and the operations all reflect best practices; a great place to start this review is with your self-service voice channel automation.

If you haven’t updated your IVR processes in the past couple years, it is past time. Voice self-service has rapidly evolved to serve your customers’ needs while also serving your company’s needs to save money today and support business growth in the future. It does this through updated processes that lead to improved call containment rates and higher levels of customer satisfaction. Here are some ideas for what needs to be weeded out of your voice channel and what needs to be ushered in so your customer relationships can grow.

Out with the old…

In all honesty, it has to be noted that IVR has produced conflicted emotions in many customers in the past. This is likely because they have intuitively noted that the channel’s design has often prioritized the company’s needs over theirs. Here’s what such a design looks like in practice:

  • It’s hard for customers to find a path to a live agent.
  • The menu is the same for all callers, regardless of why they’re calling.
  • The scripts feature company jargon rather than plain wording customers can easily understand.
  • The IVR channel is isolated from the company’s other customer service channels, with the result that customers have to repeat themselves and their needs when they call.
  • The company has taken a “fix it and forget it” approach to IVR operations: scripts reference discontinued product lines and outdated business hours, menus “dead end” into centers that no longer complete those tasks, etc.

Set aside some time to take a few spins through your own company’s voice channel and try to complete a few common tasks. Take some notes. Now call a couple of your competitors to see what their voice channels are offering. What do you feel about your experience? If you were a customer, would you stick with your company or would you try out one of your competitors?

If you’re interested in making the system updates that will keep your customer service at the front of the pack, here are some thoughts about the new standards, how they work, and where to find the cutting edge in voice self-service.

In with the new

An IVR that puts customers first offers a consistent customer experience across service channels and personalization processes that streamline each interaction according to caller need, both of which help achieve your callers’ ultimate goal of fast and easy call resolution. Let’s break down those parts.

The standard:

Omnichannel service simply means nothing your customers do should occur in a vacuum. Each interaction they have with your company should connect to all their previous interactions, regardless of the channel or purpose. Today’s IVR systems can and should adapt to each customer’s history and context, and any transitions between the IVR system, human agents, and other channels should be straightforward and seamless.

How it works:

Pass-through authentication systems can automatically identify customers who have logged in using your website or mobile app, integrating their history with all the details in your CRM. Your IVR can then adapt the options for each customer based on their recent actions in other channels. Finally, dashboards can instantly display for your human agents the the path each customer has taken through your customer service channels and provide insight into how to address customer concerns.

Streamlining through artificial intelligence The standard:

New technologies such as natural language processing are helping IVR systems evolve from static menu systems into smart listening systems capable of handling complex interactions. Instead of customers having to spend time painstakingly punching in their selections, they simply state why they’re calling and are immediately routed appropriately.

The cutting edge:

  • A boon for mobile interactions, visual IVR systems combine both speech and on-screen interactions, usually on a customer’s smart device. This simplifies navigation and expands the scope of self-service activities, such as using a touch screen to facilitate the update of personal information.
  • Biometric authentication identifies customers by their voice characteristics, eliminating the need for personal ID numbers or passwords and further streamlining the call.

Proactivity through personalization

Once your voice channel can recognize your callers, machine-learning algorithms can expand the channel’s use as a customer service tool by proactively offering actions, such as making a payment when one is due, and information, such as projected resolution times for service outages. This not only increases your customers’ satisfaction; it also cuts down on the number of calls that seek an agent.

Continuous process evolution

Finally, it’s crucial to remember that a customer-centric IVR is not a product; it’s a process. Ongoing analysis of call data will demonstrate how your IVR should be continuously updated, with new customer journeys added, existing ones refined to eliminate any bottlenecks and dead-ends, customer histories suggesting which callers should be transferred directly to an agent, etc. These ongoing initiatives to improve your IVR can mean continued improvements in both call containment and customer satisfaction, as well.

Fresh as a spring breeze

Updating your voice channel means you will need to take into consideration your customers’ ever-changing needs, fast-moving product and service life cycles, and plenty of new technologies. This may seem like a lot to get accomplished, but spring cleaning is often like that. We do it to reap the rewards from a bright, new, efficiently functioning system that encourages our customer relationships to bloom. If you would like to enlist the professional help that will make your spring cleaning more like a fresh spring breeze, consider Plum Voice’s voice automation solutions. We’ve helped more than 75 percent of our clients drastically increase their call containment rates, and 74 percent have also achieved ROI within six months. Contact us to learn more.