What Customers Want (And Certainly Don’t) With IVR Banking

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When implementing an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system in your bank, you must consider what your customers want—and what they don’t want.

IVR in banking is known for its efficiency, yet many organizations configure theirs based on what users might need rather than what they actually do need. This leads to a lot of unsolved queries and failures to help callers with simple requests.

To ensure your customers have a satisfactory experience, be sure to adapt your IVR according to their requirements. For instance, add functionalities that immediately address the most common reasons for calling and cut out the fat in your menu options so that communications are as frictionless as possible.

What Customers Want With IVR Banking

Along with fast, to-the-point service, your IVR should always offer your banking customers the following:

An option to reach a banker

IVR technology automates telephone interactions with your customers so that they don’t need to visit a branch or wait for an agent to become available. Instead, they can take care of many tasks on their own just by following pre-configured voice commands and pressing numbers on their keypads.

Still, many customers prefer to speak with a live customer service representative or banker when dealing with financial matters, so a system that lacks two-way human involvement can feel less reassuring—especially for customers who wish to discuss personal financial goals and other complex requests.

For instance, worried callers who want to report unauthorized transactions on their accounts may request to talk to an agent firsthand. Even if they can solve their issue by tapping a few numbers on their smartphones, they feel safer chatting with a finance specialist.

To ease customer concerns, be sure to add an option to connect with a human agent. That way, any anxious customers will be able to request a call with a banker or service rep right away rather than having to fight through a complex menu or complete unnecessary steps.

Multi-factor authentication

Strong security is arguably the most valued aspect of customers who contact their bank to access and discuss confidential financial information. After all, they entrust the institution with their savings, investments, and other assets.

As such, pretty much any method that guarantees safer communications and protects their money is welcomed—including multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

MFA requires users to verify their identities by completing two or more security steps. To simplify this process, keep it to a minimum of two steps and don’t overcomplicate things with fancy bells and whistles. For example, you can ask users to introduce their account number followed by a unique and randomly generated six-digit code sent to their registered mobile device.

These easy-to-follow instructions will not only satisfy customers by keeping their accounts protected but they will also shorten the login process. This is key because—despite how most people appreciate it when their banks add extra security layers to their IVR systems—customers can find it annoying when the login process is too long. 

Fortunately, MFA can be faster and more secure than other methods, such as oddball security questions that could ultimately be gathered by clever scammers with good social engineering techniques. 

The ability to fulfill service requests themselves

Just as some banking customers prefer talking to human representatives, others want to be able to accomplish all of their tasks on their smartphones by themselves.

Thus, in addition to including a feature to request an immediate call with a live agent, you should also implement an IVR system that helps tech-savvy individuals perform advanced tasks right from their devices.

Self-service IVRs allow customers to check an application’s status, access their accounts, or even make a payment. With the help of AI, these systems can provide users with straightforward answers and solutions to common requests, ultimately eliminating the frustration of long hold times.

Keep in mind that no human input (apart from the customer’s) is required from your company’s side to perform these tasks, meaning your staff never has to get on a call to change a customer’s PIN or modify a customer’s personal details again—unless it’s a customer who insists on calling. 

Education on how to use the IVR

Given that many customers will be resistant to changes, it’s a bad idea to assume they know how to use an IVR. Instead, you should implement this technology in a way that anticipates their unfamiliarity and educates them on how to go about navigating the system.

An easy way you can help people understand IVR is by adding short use cases or examples in the pre-recorded interactive menu. For instance, you can ask users to press a certain button or number to access a knowledge base that can help them get familiar with the process, like this:

“Welcome to [Company Name]’s interactive menu help center. You’ll now hear a simulated scenario of a customer using our automated IVR to change their PIN. Press 1 to hear the 30-second conversation. Press 2 for more examples of how our automated system can assist you. Press 3 to speak with a customer service representative for further assistance.”

These types of tutorials can help avoid mass customer frustration, especially when introducing your system to users for the first time. People who have never used an IVR can become confused while talking over a recorded message and lose their composure when asked to repeat a command over and over again.

Finally, you can also consider adding other features to your IVR, like automated reminders that trigger when the system detects a user isn’t responding or is perhaps lost in the main menu.

What Customers Don’t Want With IVR Banking

Simply put, most customers don’t want a complicated menu, constant surveys, or outdated information on IVR banking.

Customers don’t want a long, convoluted menu

A menu that is dense and difficult to understand can prevent customers from reaching their goals. In other words, if they’re using your IVR, it’s to get a solution to an inquiry as fast as possible, so wasting time trying to figure out what to do or where to do it isn’t helpful.

To design an easy-to-navigate IVR menu, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the most frequent customer inquiries?
  • Can I categorize these inquiries?
  • How can I make them more accessible?

Make an effort to track user behavior and analyze what they need help with the most. For instance, if people frequently ask about account balances and invoice requests, you can create a category called “billing” where customers can find quick solutions to these requests instead of navigating through endless subcategories.

That said, you should also keep in mind that it’s a bad practice to include too many menu options. Doing so will often confuse customers and result in them requesting live bankers more often than using the system how it was intended. 

 When in doubt, the simpler the menu, the better.

Customers don’t want a survey request after every interaction

Customers generally dislike surveys. They see them as intrusive and annoying because they take time and effort without providing anything back in reward.

However, as a business owner, gathering user feedback can be vital to improve your services—especially if you run a bank.

To make IVR surveys more friendly, try to limit them to a certain number of interactions.

Imagine that a customer calls your bank to check an account balance. Asking the caller to take a survey after such an interaction doesn’t make much sense, as it’s unlikely that you’ll get any relevant information. In fact, the customer may even avoid using your IVR banking system again if you bombard them with questions after such a short and simple action.

Alternatively, surveys can be helpful for complex interactions—you just need to be strategic. For example, by asking a user to participate in a short survey after helping them with a successful loan application, you’re probably more likely to gain detailed feedback.

Of course, exclusively collecting feedback after positive interactions can severely skew your data, so remember to offer surveys after negative experiences as well. 

Customers don’t want an outdated menu

Customers expect your IVR menu to display the latest information on your services. Otherwise, they can feel irritated and confused, and they may even start to question your bank’s reputation.

For example, picture a scenario in which your bank’s new website is offering savings accounts with an attractive Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 4.35% but your IVR still mentions an outdated offer of 2.8% APY. In this case, some callers may press forward to confirm which is the current deal, while others may be discouraged, assume that the website is wrong, and hang up.

Therefore, keeping your IVR menu updated is paramount. Any time you make changes in your offerings, policies, or contact information, add them to every platform—including your IVR.

Conclusion

Putting the customer first may be a cliché, but it carries an important message when configuring IVR banking systems because an outdated, irrelevant, or pushy IVR menu can make you lose even the most loyal of customers.

To ensure you meet customer demands, offer them what they really want and discard the features they don’t need. For example, if people prefer shorter menu options and quicker access to basic banking services, adapt your IVR to their wishes, even if you consider it isn’t the right approach.

Whenever in doubt, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and consider whether your IVR is truly useful and accessible enough to accommodate all of your users.



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