February 22nd, 2022

Five pitfalls when using Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

There are many reasons to use IVR. But there are also some pitfalls you should know about. Read our article to find out more.

IVR can provide higher customer satisfaction, more efficient workflows, and time saved. There are many obvious reasons why your company should use IVR. But there are also some pitfalls you should avoid. Learn more about the dos and don'ts here.

Nowadays, an IVR is mandatory in most professional businesses to handle inbound calls. Most commonly, their primary purpose is to inform about opening hours and ensure inbound calls get transferred to the right person. But there are plenty of other ways to use IVRs.

What is IVR?

An interactive voice response system is an automated telephone system allowing inbound callers to interact with a computerized voice menu via the phone's keypad. IVRs have several corresponding functions and predetermined responses that guide the caller to the correct information. This range of corresponding parts is also called a call flow or a PBX, and it is commonly used exteIVRnsively in all kinds of industries.

How and where do you use IVR?

Some companies set up automated flows allowing people to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions via an omnichannel customer journey. Some use the system to register, e.g., electricity consumption, or confirm payments by integrating the IVR with other systems.

What are the benefits of IVR

The system can save time by avoiding manual handling of each call, increasing customer satisfaction since the customer will be transferred to the right person to handle the call. Some IVR systems can even handle customer requests without involving an employee.

There are many ways to set up an IVR, which makes it possible to customize call flows in numerous ways.

Overall, IVRs are helpful in many ways. But there are some pitfalls you have to avoid when designing and configuring your IVR call flows.

1) Don't Let the IVR Replace Human Contact

People like to be met by people – and not a machine. It makes sense to let a prerecorded message handle a call in some cases. For example, if you want to inform about opening hours or alternative ways to get in touch with your company. It also makes sense to let your IVR answer generic, frequently asked questions. It is foolish to believe you can let a machine handle complicated requests and still uphold a good level of customer satisfaction. 

call center man woman

Let the IVR handle welcome greetings, routing of call flows, and generic requests (and don't compromise with the quality of the welcome message – this is the face of your company!), but don't underestimate the value of letting a human pick up the phone when needed!

2) Don't Lead Your Customers Through a Maze of Call Transfers

Press 1 if you… Biip… Press 5 if you… Biip… Press 2 if you… Maybe you're familiar with that process?

When you're trying to get through to someone who can give you the answers to your questions, but in order to get there, you need to go through multiple menus and choose your purpose with the call.

Calling a company only to be let through a maze of menus and call transfers can be frustrating, especially when you are stuck in the labyrinth and want to go back to the main menu because you accidentally pressed the wrong button. All you want is to find a shortcut or way to turn around but to get back, you'll need to hang up and start all over – just to miss your place in the queue.

Everybody can press the wrong key by accident, so make it possible to return to the main menu. Also, try to narrow down the possibilities of choosing different directions as much as possible.

3) Don't Use the IVR as a Quick Fix for Handling Long Phone Queues

Initially, it might seem like a brilliant idea to replace some of your agents in your contact center with an IVR to cut down expenses when the number of inbound calls is rising. And to some extent, it can make sense.But if you experience continuously long phone queues, it might be time to evaluate your IVR setup. Maybe you need to adjust the call flow, or perhaps you need to recruit more agents to handle your calls.

Phone queues can be helpful when distributing calls, but don't let people wait for too long. At some point, queueing will lead to frustration, where some may give up getting through to a human being. And you don't wanna miss out on a conversation, do you?

If you are experiencing long inbound phone queues, you can consider integrating your IVR with your outbound software. By doing that, you can make it optional in the IVR options to get a callback from an agent whenever someone is available. Or you can track your unanswered inbound calls and put them in a callback campaign. Just make sure to make the callback! That way, you increase customer satisfaction and don't miss out on any calls.

4) Don't Make it Mandatory to Accept Call Recording

The IVR can be a valuable tool if you need to collect consent to record conversations because you can collect it from callers with one single click before the call transfer. Be aware that some people don't like the idea of being recorded, and you need to respect that!

Unless it is indispensable to record the call (e.g., calling emergency assistance), let it be optional for the caller to accept or decline a call recording. In most IVR systems, it's pretty simple. You can just let the caller press a button to accept the call recording – and then you have your documentation in place quickly and smoothly.

Learn more about how you can use call recordings to boost your performance.

5) Don't Forget to Adapt Your IVR Setup Based on Your Data

Making a standard IVR setup can work in some cases, but nowadays, there are many advanced ways to set up your IVR, so why not use this potential and create your own customized call flows based on the data you've got?

By not adapting your IVR setup based on data, you risk ending up handling your inbound calls ineffectively. Worst case: It can cost you some great business opportunities or decrease customer satisfaction.

By analyzing your calls and evaluating your call flows, you can adjust your IVR and ensure your customers connect to the right person with the minimum waiting time.


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