IVR: Interactive Voice Response Best Practices Explored

Modern businesses are redefining IVR best practices and seeing measurable results and satisfied customers.

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IVR: Interactive Voice Response Best Practices Explored

It’s today’s most common business balancing act: meeting the ever-growing customer demands while optimizing operational costs. With the successful implementation of an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, many businesses are doing just that: delighting customers by giving them quick access to the information they need while simultaneously reducing costs.

Simply put, IVR systems can automatically answer more customer questions over the phone without any need to have them speak to live agent. This technology accurately recognizes customer interaction whether it's spoken, using AI-drivenspeech recognition software, or generated by keypad, using dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF).

Because customers prefer self-help features over waiting on hold for human contact, implementing an IVR system makes good business sense, especially since IVR-handled calls can cost 100 times less than those involving a live agent. But before you begin to build (or enhance) your IVR system, here are some best practices to keep in mind.

Top seven IVR best practices

1. Make your IVR intuitive.

Interactive Voice Response solutions should provide your customers with a simpler way to get what they want, fast. But that can only be achieved if you design your IVR with customer needs in mind. This requires making your phone menus and routing logic more intuitive by reducing menu options to five or less. Also, don’t assume you’ll nail the design on your first attempt. Instead, plan to conduct A/B tests to adjust messaging and prompts to iterate towards customer satisfaction. Think of your IVR as a living and breathing agent: conversations change over time, and so should your solution. You know it’s time to rethink your IVR if it isn’t easily customizable or is difficult to update.

2. Get personal.

Since you know who your typical callers are, IVR systems allow for tremendous personalization capabilities. Use IVR to make stronger customer connections: if it’s a known caller, greet them by name; if they speak a different language, respond to them accordingly; and if they live in certain city, give them a local phone number. A good IVR system learns a bit more about your customers with each contact. When an IVR knows the full customer journey — the reason a customer calls, the products they purchase, their billing status, etc. — the entire customer experience is more personal. Make sure your communication solution can interact with your software in real-time to so you can create a custom menu for each user, and, make it as natural as speaking with a human.

3. Let customers escalate to a real person, if necessary.

Some callers may prefer to connect with a human immediately, so make sure to include this option in your phone tree! While there are many advantages to automation, there is nothing more frustrating to a caller than wanting to connect with a real person but not finding the prompt to do so. Also, remember to connect your caller’s data to your CRM so it can be accessed by a live agent in real-time. Accenture reports that almost 90% of customers get frustrated when transferred to a live agent because they’re asked to repeat their issues. To ensure a positive customer experience, your speech recognition software should be smart enough to transfer the call when it hears the words “Representative” or “Operator,” and the agent should be privy to the complete details behind the customer’s inquiry that they have entered so far on the call.

4. Take advantage of the brand/customer connection.

Yes, it’s an automated process, but using an Interactive Voice Response solution is an ideal opportunity to blend brand identity into the conversation. IVR systems allow smart marketers to introduce their business and provide the messaging and tone that best represents their brand. Using IVR technology gives you the opportunity to leave an immediate and lasting impression. In fact, many IVR solutions allow you to create and adjust messages as often as you would your advertisements, your email, and your social media posts. Make sure you build in capabilities that allow you to monitor, measure, and improve the customer experience dynamically just as you would any other marketing program.

5. Think omnichannel.

The use of digital apps, particularly self-help apps, is on the rise — up 65% in recent years. Your IVR is just one of the building blocks needed to deliver an engaging, omnichannel experience. Whether your customer is speaking to an IVR, interacting on a web chat, post on Social Media or sending an email — communication platforms should automatically manage omni-channel customer communications -- because customers expect businesses to know all their communications. Make sure your IVR is integrated in all your support channels such as SMS, chat, and video for a truly seamless communication experience.

6. Think outside the box.

Modern businesses are inventing entirely new uses for speech recognition and DTMF. Don’t limit your IVR to just routing incoming customer service calls. Whether you're considering automation to help customers update a pharmaceutical prescription order, make a purchase, book an event, or as a faster way for your sales team to convert leads, you’ll find that legacy systems simply have not kept pace with the growing capabilities of Interactive Voice Response technologies. Fortunately, you can employ comprehensive cloud communications APIs to enhance your existing systems or develop a brand new way to automatically connect with your customers.

7. Connect globally and scale with ease.

Seamless integration is the key to creating a great IVR experience. But because communication platforms are often complex, many organizations can’t make the necessary changes using in-house resources. By turning to communication API’s, enterprise companies are using the cloud to get their communication apps to market quickly without the telecom heavy lifting like the past. But remember, not all cloud services are alike, you need one that has a highly reliable, high-quality connections supported by a global carrier network. And you want an API that is easy to deploy, maintain and scale — get your developers involved early and have them try before you buy.

Bottom line: Create the experience your customers want.

An IVR is your first line of defense for customer support and call routing, but also offers endless possibilities to connect with your customers in entirely new ways: selling products, booking reservations, and even conducting on-demand surveys to get real-time customer feedback. Modern businesses are making use of cloud communication APIs to customize IVR applications to meet their unique business requirements.

Whether you’re looking to enhance a legacy system or build an even smarter IVR solution, a cloud communications platform is the best choice to create an engaging, interactive experience with your customers. Twilio APIs offer deeper integration with greater reliability, global carrier connectivity, multilingual capabilities, omnichannel support, and intelligent routing to give customers the experience they demand.

Looking for more? Read the complete guide.

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