Is IVR user-friendly?

Innovative technological solutions allow the application or the company to stand out from the competition. Changes that are very quickly noticed by users are those that affect the level and speed of communication and information exchange. Accordingly, this aspect should be given particular emphasis. The goal that should be guided here should be the convenience of the customer. Otherwise, the implementation may be counterproductive.

The solution that I would like to focus on in this article is Interactive Voice Response, which is an extension of the IVR acronym. It allows for interactive handling of the caller and takes the form of an automatic call centre. My intention is to present the possibilities and risks of implementing IVR-based functionalities.

A bit of history

Already in the 1970s, a mathematical model enabling voice recognition was invented. In the 1980s, the idea of combining the functionality of the telephone with DTMF (Dual tone multi-frequency) and computers appeared, and the end of the 1990s was a period when many companies were already investing in IT infrastructure with IVR. As you can see, it is not an innovative method of communicating with the client, but one that is dynamically developing.

First – the user

Adding an IVR service sometimes has an unintended effect. Echoes of such implementations can be found in the comments of dissatisfied customers on various discussion forums on the Internet. By analyzing such statements, it can be concluded that the purpose of the implemented solution in such cases was to relieve other communication channels, and not to facilitate access. Extensive IVR trees create an annoyance that leads to users giving up services or venting their anger on the consultants they contact because they won’t know how to achieve the goal in any other way. In such implementations, there is clearly a lack of focus on the customer’s comfort and analysis of their behaviour.

Advance information

We know the risks of an ill-considered implementation, but the question arises how can we avoid it? Let me start with the simplest thing that comes to mind. I would like to point out that in my opinion, it should be only the absolute minimum in a situation where we plan to implement a communication channel using a nested IVR tree. It is worth thinking about informing users about the planned implementation and presenting in a visual form the paths that they will be able to follow using the new functionality.

Possibly flat structure

However, the main emphasis should be placed on limiting the nesting levels of the tree. It is a good idea to provide more information at the higher levels of the tree to reduce the risk of the user straying. The discussed structure should be a kind of table of contents, but not one that is hard to find yourself in.

Path optimization

It is worth collecting information on how clients move in the system and with which problems they report most often. We then have the option of adjusting the path to the user. For example, at some stage, there are 5 options to choose from. The client we recognize, who makes a connection, usually chooses option 4. Given this knowledge, we can present this option to them as the first one on the list.

Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text

Solutions worth using are Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text. These solutions allow you to convert text into speech and vice versa. We can then analyze what the user said and on this basis, we can adjust the conversation path to the interlocutor. On the other hand, we have the option of recording what the interested party communicated during the call. The aforementioned provision can be used during a possible conversation with the consultant, which will reduce the need to provide the same data again.

Freedom of choice

Giving the user access to the communication channel using a solution such as IVR, should not be stopped within this channel. I mean that the interlocutor should be able to smoothly switch to communication via e-mail, for example. It will give them a sense of freedom of choice.

Notifications

An additional solution worth implementing is voice notification. In the event of a failure, you can, for example, automatically notify customers of the situation, which will probably significantly reduce the number of phone calls from users in such situations.

Summary

IVR offers a wide range of possibilities, among them it is worth mentioning automatic authorization, voice notifications, user service, notification classification and payment processing. However, it should be remembered that the use of the discussed tool makes sense only if we adapt to the client’s preferences. Otherwise, the work done with a high degree of probability will not translate into our success.

Krzysztof Kura

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