Did you know that the average American spends more than 30 hours a year waiting to resolve customer service issues? In the grand scheme of things, that’s a lot of time and attention spent on hold and away from the million other things on our daily to-do lists. The collective cost to individuals, within this country alone, in terms of time lost is well over $100 Billion, which doesn’t even take into account the frustration level for those end users. For businesses and organizations looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors, fine-tuning the customer experience looks like a great place to start!
IVR – What is it anyway?
So what is IVR? IVR stands for “interactive voice response.” The system is an automated customer service solution that uses pre-recorded responses to meet callers’ needs. IVR is responsible for gathering data, cutting down on wait times and routing callers to representatives who are most qualified in addressing the customers’ questions and concerns. What might come as a bit of a surprise though is that not all IVR systems are created alike. In fact, not all of them actually save customers’ time. If you’re considering making the leap to an IVR system, here are a few best practices to follow that will enable your company to better offer services to not only your existing clients, but also to prospective customers.
All Eyes on the Customer
Effective IVR systems start with the customer’s experience and satisfaction. Consider the following customer service stats:
– 55 percent of your customers would rather pay more if it guaranteed a higher level of customer service;
– Customers are four times more likely to seek out a competitor due to bad service than price or product variables;
– In order to balance out one negative service experience, a customer needs 12 positive experiences.
In other words, IVR at its core needs to facilitate positive customer service. To do that, the IVR should be designed from the perspective of the caller, not the company. As always, “the customer is always right,” so companies must adopt resources that prove to be beneficial not only for internal purposes, but more importantly for the end user.
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It’s no secret that the majority of people would still prefer to talk to an actual person to get answers to questions or concerns, so make sure the IVR system is exceptional. As great as technology might be, there’s something to be said about having a live customer service representative available. Nothing is more frustrating for customers (and we’ve all been there before) than having to repeat the issue twice and be tossed around from one representative to another. Further, the system should compile the customer data and have it ready for an agent who may end up handling the call. Transparency and being able to create an easy transition between representatives shows consistency and consideration for the customer.
Simplicity is Key
It is imperative to keep call steering as simple as possible in an effort to not frustrate the customer with an endless menu of hard-to-navigate options. Self-service acquisitions need to be straightforward, so it can accommodate high-volume needs and build outward. No need to automate complicated transactions. Instead, route the call to an agent who’s skilled at handling complex service needs. This provides a level of service that will keep the customer satisfied and informed.
Reduce Customer Effort
The most important aspect of improving customer service and increasing loyalty boils down to being able to reduce customer effort. What does that mean exactly? If your IVR system is hard to maneuver, takes too much time to operate, or is otherwise difficult to endure, your brand and sales will suffer accordingly. As a good rule of thumb – reduce the amount of work your IVR system requires as much as possible, and customers will thank you.
To put it simply, when it comes to business matters, customer experience is everything. Businesses must do everything in their power to keep customers satisfied with their services, and having an exceptional IVR system in place is a step in the right direction. The takeaway – do your research upfront into solutions that can make your job easier by increasing loyalty, ease of use and most importantly, a finely tuned customer experience.