Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Personalizing Your Call Center IVR System for Better Service

A recent TMC article, “Ten Tips for Improving IVR Functionality”, got me thinking about the elements of a caller-friendly IVR system. Two of the ten items touched on personalizing call center IVR for better service, and I think this is a very important and often underestimated part of quality IVR systems. As much as possible, call center IVR systems ought to be personalized to callers to be effective. This means not only customizing the functioning of the IVR system, but also giving the call center IVR system a human touch.

The fact is that every caller is unique, and an IVR system needs to be able to handle different callers with different needs. A good call center IVR system will be programmed to handle as many different situations as possible. A personalized IVR system will impress callers and make the call center IVR seem more like a person. After all, the more individualized an IVR call, the more it will simulate human interaction.

What are some ways to personalize your call center IVR system? As the TMC article points out, you can integrate the IVR system with your customer database (see my previous blog which touches on IVR customer profiling). An IVR system can also customize error messages, avoiding those generic errors which can be so frustrating.

Here are a few more ideas for personalizing your call center IVR system:

1) Have the IVR system address callers by name. Any salesperson knows that addressing a prospect by name creates instant rapport. Whenever possible, have your call center IVR system do the same.

2) Have the IVR system prompt sales based on past purchase history. I talked about this a little in a past IVR blog. Use the IVR system to analyze the caller’s buying habits from past call center IVR interactions. This kind of personalization can be a great way to boost sales.

3) Have the IVR system offer different satisfaction surveys based on the context of the call. Callers will only answer surveys if they are approached at the right time. A prospect calling just to inquire wouldn’t be able to rate company performance the way a loyal customer could. Read a past call center IVR blog on surveys for more tips on this subject.

4) Tailor the IVR hold music/narration according to each caller. Use the hold narration to promote different company offerings according to specific caller profiles and watch your sales rise.

5) Accommodate repeat callers by anticipating their needs. Have your IVR system predict the caller’s needs based on call history. For example, depending on who is calling, as well as recent transactions, the IVR system may ask “Would you like to check your balance, Mr. Jones?” or “Would you like to pay your credit card bill, Ms. Smith?”.

Personalizing your call center IVR means giving the IVR system a more human touch, as well as developing the apparent spontaneity and intelligence of the system to increase caller satisfaction. The more you succeed in making the caller feel important, the more effective your IVR system will be.