Pushing the Right Customer Buttons in the Contact Center


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Businesses of all shapes and sizes leverage interactive voice response (IVR) technology because of its efficiency, and the critical role it plays in providing a consistent customer service experience. Presented with pre-recorded voice prompts and menu options, callers can enter responses using their phone’s touch-tone keypad or verbally if the IVR system has voice recognition capability.

Despite their benefits, IVR systems can sometimes provide a cold, impersonal and frustrating caller experience, leading to lower levels of customer engagement and satisfaction. There are several small but important steps businesses can take to ensure that their customers’ experience is positive, while also using the contact center to effectively engage with customers. In particular, two steps, custom messages and music-on-hold options, can make a world of difference.

Here are several ways you can use custom messages and music-on-hold to your advantage:

Convey Respect – Custom messages show you care about your callers’ time. Nobody likes to be on hold. But it’s worse if your callers are placed on hold and have to listen to dead air. Make sure your message apologizes for the wait and acknowledges the value of the caller’s time.

Provide an Estimated Hold Time – During periods of high volume, some callers with less than urgent issues may decide to call later – or use email or chat (if available) – rather than wait on hold for an extended period.

Create a Professional Image – Always put your best foot forward, especially for first-time callers. Custom messages can add the human touch to your company.

Promote New Products – Make custom messages part of your marketing plan and product launches. Cross-sell existing products when appropriate. When callers are on hold, you have a captive audience. So, maximize this time by providing information about your products and how they resolve business issues. However, it’s best to avoid a hard-sell approach.

Advertise – In addition to promoting your new and existing products, announce special promotions, events and other sales related messages. You can also direct callers to your website for special offers.

Publicize Company Milestones – You can enhance your credibility by sharing information on the company’s background, including years in business, special recognition and awards, industry participations and more. You can also talk about what’s happening in your community.

Educate – Discuss industry trends, research findings or the latest news affecting your company and market. Tips and information that would be beneficial to callers are another effective way to use your custom message feature.

Entertain – To make the on-hold experience as positive as possible, you can get creative with your messages. Examples include recording inspiring messages, humorous anecdotes, interesting stories, trivia, history and more.

With the custom messages and music-on-hold capability of your contact center system, you can minimize the chances of callers hanging up and feeling disconnected with your company. And when callers remain on the line, you have opportunities to deepen your engagement with them.

Bob Ashley
Bob Ashley is a senior product manager for FairPoint Communications. He has held many technical and managerial positions over his 37 year communications career. Bob has had the opportunity and good fortune to work for a wide variety of companies, ranging from small family-owned, independent telcos, to industry giants like Contel and GTE.


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