IVR Applications and The Human Challenge

New times, new technologies-but the oldest rules of business in the book still apply. Be what your customers need you to be, and they’ll return. Develop trust. Build a relationship. Reward their good faith. Make them feel like they’re much more than just a figure on the bottom line.

In other words, be human – especially when it comes to IVR applications.

An IVR system should, in fact, be more than just a (tremendously) cost-saving measure. If you do it right, many customers will actually be thankful for the clarity, simplicity, reduced risk of miscommunication, and dependability that come with an effective IVR system. The information they are calling for is presented to them in a clear and orderly manner that actually helps illuminate their options and choices-and always with an easy option to talk to a human representative.

But if it’s not intuitive, communicative, and personal -or if it makes customers feel like you’re intentionally making it difficult for them to get the help they need over the phone, there can be nothing more aggravating and alienating. And now more than ever-in an era of Twitter, Facebook and Yelp – a poor customer experience can cost you dearly.

According to TMCnet:

“One of the shining silver linings from the economic slump is that it forced companies to quit taking customers for granted. For if these outfits tick buyers off they will go elsewhere, tell the world about it via the new social media sites, resulting in fewer others that will be suckered in to replace that lost business.”

The smart companies are getting it: that the loss of revenue from turned off existing and potential customers exceeds the cost savings from overeager IVR deployments.  They and their suppliers are turning their attention at last to their IVR systems by making them into constructive tools that can actually improve customer service and retention as well as lower expenses and boost productivity.”

So here are three ways to keep it real:

1. Human Intuition

You can imagine the potential for confusion – not every client or customer calls knowing exactly what they need. An effective IVR system lets them know that you cared enough about them to think about their potential needs, potential communication issues, and potential solutions in advance. This also means going to the extra mile with user-testing before implementation.

2. Human Communication

Strike the right tone from the start. Even though the fact that they’re speaking with a computer will never be fully lost on customers, the right tone, grammar and language can make a big difference in the user experience. Make sure your customers realize that you’re happy to hear from them, and that the IVR is there to serve them. This also means keeping the IVR application concise and simple, and avoiding excessive marketing pitches and “up selling” opportunities (this is about their needs more than your wants).

3. The Human Option.

Give your customers the option to speak to live agents, and make it easy for them to quickly opt out of the automated process at any time and reach a real, live, friendly human.

The money you will save through the use of IVR applications is not worth the clients you’ll lose if you do not effectively and efficiently service their needs.

Contact our IVR experts for more information on effective customer IVR design practices.