How a Smooth Call Center IVR Decreases Employee Turnover
Imagine you’re a call center agent, and your whole day is spent answering the same question again and again and again from every single customer who calls in. Unless you like to suffer through monotony, it may not take long before you start looking for other jobs.
In fact, repetitive tasks are oftentimes the reason many call centers struggle with high employee turnover rates.
If this is a problem for your business, the good news is that you can reduce your turnover rate and gain a competitive customer service advantage by setting up an interactive voice response (IVR) system for your call center.
Implementing an IVR system well takes proper planning, investment, and effort, but the payoff is often worth the work involved.
A well-designed IVR can eliminate repetitive work for agents, reduce customer frustration, and put your call center in the best possible position to resolve calls quickly.
Call Center IVR Basics
IVR technology is a type of call center software that allows computers to answer customer calls. Also known as phone trees, they are a typical feature of most VoIP providers.
IVRs are often the first point of contact for customers dialing a call center. Customers can speak with the IVR system as if it were a human, and the IVR system can answer frequently asked questions with pre-recorded responses. In some cases, the system can even handle simple transactions. If not, they can always direct the caller to a live agent or another department as needed.
IVR systems often work alongside two other technologies.
- Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs): These help route calls to the right agent or department within an organization.
- Computer Telephony Integration (CTI): This connects computer and telephone systems together under one roof.
A good IVR system can usually connect with your existing business software as well. For example, RingCentral uses APIs to help you integrate its IVR with the rest of your tech stack.
Why Call Center IVR Is So Important
In a smaller company or office setting, a simple phone menu or auto attendant can cover your customer service needs.
But once you have the volume of a call center, neither will cut it. On the one hand, customers will have more unique issues that a simple menu or auto attendant can’t resolve. On the other, many customers may get through to live agents for very superficial issues, taking time away from other, more important tasks.
Therefore, a call center IVR creates efficiencies that directly benefit all parties involved.
Call Center IVR Benefits for Customers
Enhancing the customer service experience is vital to strengthening new customer relationships, maintaining existing ones, and even repairing relationships with unhappy customers.
Here are some ways a call center IVR can help your customers and strengthen your customer service:
Call Center IVR Benefits for Agents
IVR systems can take a lot of repetitive work off your agents’ backs, making their jobs easier and helping them resolve issues more effectively.
Here are some benefits a call center IVR system can offer your agent workforce:
Call Center IVR Benefits for Administrators
Here are some ways an IVR system can help out your call center administrators:
Call Center IVR Benefits for Businesses
Here are some advantages your business can experience by investing in a high-quality IVR system for your call center:
Call Center IVR Tips and Best Practices
Call center IVRs offer benefits to everyone involved—agents, administrators, the company itself, and your customers.
Nevertheless, getting your IVR working optimally isn’t always easy—at least not at first. You must set up your IVR to follow best practices in order to maximize these benefits.
Streamline and Simplify Your IVR Process
Customers prefer fast and easy resolutions to their problems. It’s okay to program your IVR to greet the customer like a human, but keep it to no more than a sentence before the IVR goes into the customer service menu.
The main menu and submenu options should be clear and take no more than 30 seconds to list.
Similarly, the language your IVR uses should be simple and easy for any customer to understand. Avoid complex terms and other industry jargon. Instead, use casual and professional language that will resonate with your customers and show them that you are focused on their needs.
Allow Agent Access
IVR systems can solve many issues, but not all of them. Some customers have uncommon problems you simply can’t plan for with an automated system.
List all your menu options first without agent access. Make the customer choose the broad category their problem falls under. Then, list the options with that submenu, and only at the end give them instructions on how to reach an agent.
This not only reduces the chances that they’ll skip to an agent right away, but it also increases the chances of sending them to the correct department—which is huge. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an IVR system, you know how helpful it is to be able to speak to one and only one agent without needing to get transferred over and over again.
Provide an Automated Callback Option
Regardless of any one customer’s reason for bypassing IVR and going straight to an agent, it’s going to start happening more and more as your business grows.
At the same time, you don’t want tons of customers waiting on hold for hours on end—otherwise, they won’t be your customers for much longer. So, when increasing your agent workforce is not an option, offering automated callbacks can be a good solution.
To receive a callback from a live agent at a later time, customers can press a button to inform your IVR that they would rather do that than wait on hold. The IVR then logs callback requests, helping agents call customers in the correct order once they have the availability.
Ultimately, the callback option enhances customer satisfaction by allowing the customer to go about their day and wait for a call rather than remain waiting with their ear glued to the insufferable saxophone of the hold menu.
A good rule of thumb is to ensure your IVR’s automated callback script informs the customer that you’ll save their spot in line. This reassures the customer that you won’t forget about them.
Provide Multiple Language Options
Not every customer speaks the same language. Even bilingual customers may prefer the non-dominant language in a particular area. If you offer multiple language options for your responses, you can make your customer service more accessible and friendly.
For example, a large portion of the US population speaks Spanish at home. Many call centers for US customers offer English and Spanish IVR options as a result. Once set up, it’s as simple as telling the caller that they can press a key to receive the IVR responses in Spanish.
Update and Refine Your IVR
Automated IVR prompts and messages are quite helpful, but the information in them can become outdated over time.
Therefore, make a point to update your IVR prompts regularly.
For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies added prompts and messages addressing pandemic-related issues their customers may have had. As time went on, these brands removed these messages or adapted them to fit current circumstances.
Another example may be if you are launching a new product or service line. It’s a good idea to plan out your IVR prompts before the new product launches and then implement them as soon as possible. That way, your IVR system can address any issues related to the new product or service.
Analyze your IVR Data
Call volume, customer call patterns, and similar information can give you quite a bit of helpful data—and not just for enhancing your customer service.
Here are some ways that analyzing your IVR data can help you improve your business as a whole:
- Streamline IVR menu structure: Customer behavior patterns can uncover ways to rearrange IVR menus or change out the messages for better efficiency. More customers can then resolve their issues via IVR faster, reducing the overall workload.
- Optimize call routing: Customers can get frustrated if they bounce between departments. Observing call patterns can help you identify the most common questions and ensure more calls get sent to the right place. Plus, you can also expedite the process of getting to that department and reduce the chance that the customer has to repeat information.
- Improve clarity elsewhere: Common customer questions and concerns could indicate general objections that stop potential customers from purchasing your company’s products and services. Addressing these both on your website and in your sales or marketing materials could increase sales.
- Allocate resources: IVR data can help you optimize staffing levels by raw call volume and the types of questions that come in. For instance, you might get a lot of unique questions the IVR can’t handle at a particular time of day. You can arrange to have more agents on hand at that time. This improves your balance between the costs of resources and the quality of customer service you can provide.
A properly implemented call center IVR can be an excellent investment, as it allows customers to resolve common issues quickly and on their own.
That said, an IVR system can also be a nightmare for your customers if it’s not properly implemented or managed. Remember to keep each menu simple, provide multiple language options, and offer access to an agent if necessary.
Finally, keep an eye on customer call data and use it to update your IVR menus. If you can optimize call routing, the time and money you save in the process could be used to improve the general operations of your business.