Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have become increasingly popular in modern businesses, and the Global IVR Systems Market is set to reach US$6.7 Billion by the Year 2026. IVRs provide a cost-effective and efficient way to communicate with customers.
An IVR system helps direct callers to the appropriate agent, provide basic information, and offer self-service options. The idea is that IVR solutions lead to increased customer satisfaction and reduced wait times.
But a 2019 survey by Vonage revealed that more than half of the respondents believed that IVRs lead to a poor customer experience. You might be wondering why technology that is supposed to improve the customer’s experience is actually worsening the experience. The answer is IVR design flaws.
Many IVR solutions aren’t designed to be customer-centric but rather business-centric. This means that the IVR doesn’t follow design best practices with the customer in mind but rather the business.
Businesses need to ensure that their IVR applications are functional yet customer-centric. One of the latest advancements in IVR technology is using AI voices and text-to-speech tools that help automate and design IVR responses, which provide a more natural-sounding and personalized experience for customers.
In this article, we’ll explore the factors to consider when designing an IVR system, the common mistakes businesses make with IVRs, and the top 5 design tips to create an IVR that customers want to listen to.
Factors to Consider When Designing Your IVR
The biggest challenge in designing an IVR system is to create one that not only meets the objectives of the business but also helps customers. Creating an IVR experience that aligns with the business’s goals whilst helping customers is crucial.
This ensures that customers have a seamless and positive experience when communicating with your business. The IVR options should be tailored to address your customer’s needs while also aligning with your business’s needs.
Here are some of the factors that you need to consider when designing your IVR:
Meeting Your Customer and Business’s Needs
Let’s imagine your IVR is in place to help handle and manage high call volumes at your business’ contact center. You want to ensure that your menus offer enough customer options and help the business compartmentalize and handle the calls.
Let’s take a look at this example for a cable company’s call center:
An example of a cable company’s IVR
As you can hear, there are four main menu options. When a customer presses any of these options on their keypad, let’s say technical support or billing information, their call is routed to the technical support or billing department.
This call routing also helps the business prioritize and separate the calls into different queues. Instead of all the inbound calls waiting in one queue, the calls are segmented into different queues based on the customer’s option.
Type of Business
One of the crucial factors to consider when designing your IVR is the type of business. For instance, an IVR for a bank will differ from a retail business. You’ll find that a bank’s IVR might be more comprehensive than a retail business’s IVR. The bank will have more menu options and may even have submenu options.
An example of a bank’s IVR
As you can hear, when the customer calls the bank, they’re directed to a set of options that asks them to state or select what they’re calling about. The customer states that they need to speak to customer support.
Once the call routes to the customer support department, the customer is prompted to enter their account number with their phone keypad. The IVR registers the account number, and then the IVR service brings up a submenu, prompting the customer to select another option.
A retail business’s IVR is a little more straightforward, the customer is directed to four options, and after selecting an option, the customer is redirected to a customer care representative.
An example of a retail business’ IVR
Main Objective of the Calls
Another critical factor to consider when designing your IVR is the main objective of the calls. Businesses use IVRs for different purposes. IVRs can be used to schedule appointments, route calls to the right department, or even automate collecting payments.
Your objective will determine the design of your IVR. For instance, the menu will be designed differently if you use an IVR to collect payments than for customer service call handling purposes. The former option will require you to have fewer options and won’t require the customers to speak to a customer care agent.
Your choice of IVR voice will also differ. For automated payments, you should choose a neutral voice. You should choose a more friendly and emotive voice for customer service handling purposes.
An example of an automated payment IVR
Where IVRs Go Wrong, from the Customer’s Point-of-View
While IVRs offer an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate with customers, several common mistakes hinder the customer experience. Customers often feel frustrated and unheard, from long wait times to confusing menus, ineffective voice recognition, and inability to speak to a representative.
Long Wait Times
Long wait times on IVRs frustrate customers and impact the bottom line of businesses.
A 2020 study by Forrester Research found that 73% of customers consider valuing their time as the most important factor in customer experience.
When customers have to wait too long on an IVR, they perceive the business as unresponsive and uncaring. This perception can lead to negative reviews, decreased customer loyalty, and lost sales.
One of the main reasons why confusing IVR menus frustrate customers is that it takes them longer to find the information or assistance they need.
In many cases, customers are calling with a specific issue or question in mind. They may become increasingly frustrated and lose patience if they can’t easily navigate the IVR menu.
This can result in customers hanging up the call or abandoning the company altogether, which can have serious implications for the business’s bottom line.
Ineffective Voice Recognition
Voice recognition is a critical component of some IVR software, but it can also be a source of frustration for customers. According to Small Business Trends, 45 % of consumers complain about having to repeat themselves due to voice recognition issues.
IVRs that lack effective voice recognition can lead to long wait times and customer frustration. Customers want to quickly and easily navigate menus and get the necessary information.
However, if the IVR cannot recognize the customer’s voice or interpret their responses correctly, it can result in a negative customer experience.
Inability to Speak to a Live Agent
Despite the convenience and efficiency that IVRs provide, they can fall short when it comes to complex customer issues. In such cases, customers often prefer speaking to a live agent who can provide personalized assistance and immediate attention to their needs.
According to a survey conducted by NewVoiceMedia, over 75% of customers prefer speaking to a live agent when they have a problem that requires immediate attention. As a result, businesses must strike a balance between offering the convenience of an IVR system and providing the option for customers to speak to a live agent.
Top 5 IVR Design Tips to Help Keep Your Customers Engaged
Here are the top 5 IVR designs that can help keep your customers engaged.
Tip 1: Keep your IVR menu options simple and concise
Too many menu options can confuse customers and make them forget which options they need to press. Limiting the number of options and using clear and concise language ensures that customers remember what they’re calling about.
Tip 2: Use natural-sounding voices
No one wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot, so you want to make sure that your IVR voices sound realistic.
Using realistic AI voices will make your customers feel like they’re interacting with a human, not just a machine.
Using natural-sounding voices will make the experience more pleasant for customers and help build a connection between the customer and the company.
There are many high-quality text-to-speech tools with realistic AI voices that can help make your IVR system sound more natural and engaging.
Tip 3: Offer self-service options
Offering self-service options is essential for keeping your customers engaged. Customers should have the option to request a callback or leave a message.
This can help them avoid waiting on hold for extended periods, which is crucial to maintaining customer engagement.
Tip 4: Use natural language and avoid technical jargon
The use of technical language can alienate customers and make them feel disconnected from the company.
Using technical jargon can make the IVR system confusing and disengaging for customers. It’s important to use natural language that is easy for customers to understand.
Tip 5: Create a succinct script
Having a succinct and straightforward IVR script is essential to keeping customers engaged. A script that is too long or complex can be difficult for customers to follow and may lead to disengagement.
A simple and straightforward script helps ensure that customers stay engaged and can easily navigate through the menu.
Why Well-Designed IVR Responses Make All the Difference
An effective IVR system can streamline call routing, scale operations, and boost customer satisfaction.
Improves the Efficiency of the Call Route
An IVR system that is well-designed and easy to navigate can help route callers to the appropriate department or representative quickly and accurately, which makes call routing efficient. In today’s fast-paced business world, customers expect quick and efficient service.
With the ability to quickly connect callers to the right department, businesses can ensure that customer inquiries and issues are addressed.
A well-designed IVR system can handle a large volume of calls without requiring additional staff or resources. As businesses grow and expand, they need to be able to handle an increasing volume of customer inquiries and support requests.
This means that businesses can efficiently handle larger calls without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction. With a scalable IVR system in place, businesses can focus on growth and expansion.
Increases Customer Satisfaction
When customers are able to quickly and easily connect with the right department or representative, they’re more likely to feel satisfied.
A well-designed IVR system can also provide customers with important information, such as hours of operation, location information, and frequently asked questions.
By providing this information upfront, businesses can reduce frustration and improve the overall customer experience.
Compliment Your Well-Designed IVR with Ultra-Realistic AI Voices
Choosing the right voices for your IVR system can feel like the “last mile” when designing your IVR. With over 100 ultra-realistic voices in the Play.ht library, find the perfect ultra-realistic AI voice for your IVR today.