Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Increase Caller Satisfaction with IVR Scripts that Work

A recent article with TMCnet, Business Phone Systems Important for Enhancing Customer Experience, notes that “choosing the right business phone system is as important as having a pleasing and friendly voice while interacting with a customer”. One of the most important components of a good voice recognition system is an effective voice recognition script. Callers can easily inform agents of their needs, but it isn’t so easy with an automated IVR system. Either callers wait around while the system rolls through an endless parade of menu options, or else they’re stuck repeating phrases that the speech recognition software does not recognize.

Dealing with a voice recognition system that doesn’t consider caller needs can dramatically decrease customer satisfaction. That is why the script for a voice recognition system is so crucial to the success of the overall IVR system. Optimizing the system functionality to consider the needs of callers can simulate the experience of talking to an agent and give the call an increased feel of spontaneity.

The TMC article addresses the problems associated with poor phone systems:
Often, we hear people complaining about poor customer service and it’s usually due to long hold, being rerouted to the wrong official, or poor sound quality. These glitches hamper the image of the company and the customer may not call again.
Thus, having a system that considers caller needs is crucial. Imagine how much faster and more pleasant it is for customers to call and ask a speech recognition system for store hours and have the necessary information in seconds. Rather than sitting there waiting for “Option 1… Option 2… Option 3…” and getting tied up in an endless list of menu items asking callers what they want, callers can go straight to the source of the issue, just as though talking to a live agent.

To function optimally, the IVR system has to know what callers want, and it takes extensive research of call history and IVR call monitoring to find out the kind of reasons people call. There need to be effective prompts and a logical call progression. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many options available for the design of voice recognition systems. As the TMC article states, “Functionalities and options available in each system are different and depending upon their needs, a company should decide in favor of a system that benefits them most.”

At the end of the day, an IVR system can’t replace a live agent for complex calls. A human agent is needed to resolve in-depth issues and mediate conflicts. But with a well-designed IVR script, agents are freed from simple, repetitive calls. Problems with call routing disappear with automatic IVR call-directing, and custom-designed IVR scripts can even interact with customers on hold to troubleshoot and try to resolve the problem independently, as well as to collect information for agents. The result? TMC puts it best:
In all, customer loyalty, profitable ROI and an improved business image are the results of having a good phone system in place.
Well-designed IVR scripting is one of the best means of enhancing caller experience and company image with a good voice recognition system.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Mobile Self-Service has Upped IVR Revenue

Recently, a company in India implemented a retail IVR system for passersby to call and order items they see in ads. The phone number appears in the ad, and users can identify the particular item they want and pay via credit card. CEO Deven Limayae explains:
The logic is to use cell phones as an interaction medium with screen, where the user's cell phone number acts as the customer's identity, and the retailer can actually come across the potential buyers or customers. Also, the generated customer data helps the retailer to understand customer's behavior and psychology.
Tailoring voice recognition systems to be used on mobile phones is particularly attractive for consumers, travelers, or anyone on the go. IVR applications in mobile systems tap into the spontaneity of consumer behavior, as opposed to the traditional IVR systems that are generally targeted towards landline calls.

Whatever its use, nowadays IVR is largely about self-service. The ability to call from anywhere, at any time, is part of the advantage of a voice recognition system. For companies, one of the biggest benefits of self-service IVR implementation is financial gain. If callers can check flight times, make appointments, or purchase products on their own, callers will not have to queue at all and agent time will be significantly freed up. Steve Morrell, author of a report on self-service IVR comments on the benefits of self-service:
We believe that this is only the beginning of what telephone self-service can deliver. Of course, not all calls are suitable for self-service-- respondents estimate that an average of only 31 percent of inbound calls would suit it- and over-use of this channel can frustrate customers and severely damage a brand. However, for simple and repetitive tasks, such as account balances, meter readings and ticket bookings, self-service works for both customer and business, as there’s never a queue to wait in. This should also mean that if a customer needs to speak to a real person, then it’s more likely that there’ll be someone available to help them.
In fact, self-service is cited as one of the reasons for the incredible growth in the voice recognition industry:
Growth in the IVR market is being driven by strong demand for self-service applications ...
Recent estimates have placed worldwide IVR revenue at $1.867 billion at the end of 2007, and predictions place the continued growth at $2.4 billion by 2010.

Still, self-service has plenty of room to improve, with only 31 percent of inbound calls being entirely self-service. If IVR systems are built to be more efficient, handling calls in a complete and independent manner, we should expect continued growth in the industry.