Impress. Don’t just satisfy. Stand out. Don’t just aim for invisibility.
Your mindset while designing an automated IVR system shouldn’t be to minimize customer annoyance and frustration, but rather to maximize customer benefit and enjoyment.
Granted, sometimes the best IVR system is one that is hardly noticed at all. But that mindset is important, because customers will detect a commitment to professionalism, innovation, and intuition about their needs.
In fact, when done well, customers can actually prefer an automated system to a customer representative for certain uses.
Here are three:
1. Avoiding Human Error
Placing orders. Booking tickets. Making reservations.
In any situation where there’s a possibility of human error—based on verbal misunderstanding, difficulty with accents, or simple processing mistakes—IVR can offer a welcome alternative of automation and uniformity. In other words, when people trust the machine, people often prefer the machine (with, as always, an easy opt-out option giving them the control to escape the machine).
Of course, if the system is poorly designed and confusing, that trust will vanish in a heartbeat.
2. Keeping Sensitive Information Queries Sensitive
Bank balances. Lab test results. School grades.
For these sorts of queries, many people would rather not have a human representative pulling up their files and relaying such sensitive information to them over the phone. The fewer strangers handling it, the better. Using IVR, on the other hand, has the same sort of privacy effect as pulling up results over the Internet. There is at least a situational amount of privacy given.
3. Simple Information Gathering
Polls. Surveys. Database updating calls.
If a process done with IVR is actually quicker and simpler than if it were done with an actual human representative, customers often prefer it. For example, for straightforward tasks like polls and surveys or periodic calls to update database information, using a human adds a sort of complicating factor to the call. That little human “connection” requires more of customers—cordiality, small talk, etc. (seems insignificant, we know, but little stresses add up)—than simply responding to the questions asked.
In other words, sometimes it’s nice just to talk to a computer.
In the end, an automated IVR system that’s easy, professional, and intuitive will do more than just avoid frustrating your customers, but also create a lasting and memorable impression that will solidify that relationship.