By Peter DeHaan, PhD
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) has its place in the call center, but we need not overstate what that place is. If IVR can truly speed up the call for the caller or gather information to assist the agent in providing better service, then use it. However, when the primary goal of IVR becomes to save money, reduce the agent headcount, or limit customer service options, then it needs to be rethought. Here are my thoughts:
- Always provide an option for the caller to press 0 to talk to an agent.
- Provide short and basic options that can be readily understood by someone from outside your company.
- Ask your customers, and even your friends, to call and test your IVR. Then fix the things that bug them.
- Setup your call center’s IVR exactly as you would want one to work when you are calling someone else.
- Don’t block the digit 0. “The customer is always right” and if the customer wants to talk to a person, then let them.
- Don’t prompt for an account number if the agent is going to ask for it again.
- Don’t have callers make entries (such for “billing”) and then not tell the rep which option has selected.
- Don’t route callers to a general agent queue after you have made them take the time to tell the IVR specifically why they’re calling. Skip the subterfuge and just route the call.
- Don’t provide level after level of menu options; keep it simple.
- Don’t force a mildly irritated customer through a frustratingly long and cumbersome IVR tree, because they will exit it highly irritated – and take it out on the agent.
Yes, IVR has its place, but in most call centers, IVR is broken and needs to be fixed. What are you doing about it in your call center?
Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.