Savor IVR Simplicity Customers Will Thank You (in 10 Different Tongues)

Say one for English, two for Afrikaans…. or 11 for Zulu. Speak clearly, please.

Think designing a clear, user-friendly, cost-saving IVR system for your customers is tough? Just consider what some businesses are facing in other parts of the world:

“IVR was introduced to the South African market more than 15 years ago as a replacement to touch tone calling. While many companies use the technology, it may not necessarily always be the best option in a country with 11 official languages.

In Africa, dictionaries are not really up to the standard where everybody would be comfortable to use it. For example, a mobile network provider has to cater for a number of different languages, and the dictionaries for those languages are not 100% reliable yet. That is why it is so important to consult customers before switching to voice recognition, Sch√∂nfeldt stresses.”

Sure, designing speech-enabled IVR applications for an American customer base doesn’t present quite the same challenges. But we can still take one very important IVR lesson from our friends in Africa:

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Especially when you consider America s own ever-evolving demographic makeup as a diverse, multi-ethnic nation filled with immigrants from around the world. While we don t have 11 official languages, we do have more than 300 million people, each with unique backgrounds, accents, and potential for becoming confused. Multinational corporations face this challenge even more plainly. The last thing you want to do is leave callers feeling flustered, frustrated, and abandoned by your customer service team because of an overly-complicated system or use of language.

In practice, this means avoiding no-nos like:

  • Slang and idiom.
  • Assumptions about a caller s preexisting base of knowledge about what they need help with.
  • Unnecessary, redundant, or confusing steps in the system s infrastructure.

Instead, err on the side of clarity and simplicity,and put yourselves in the shoes of the customer when writing and designing the IVR system. Then thoroughly user-test the system with a diverse group of test subjects in order to spot any potential areas of confusion. While getting it wrong can lead to a loss of customers, getting a speech recognition system right will highlight your company as professional, adaptable, and customer-oriented.