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Using an IVR effectively

Updated on April 12, 2010

What is an IVR?

Some people also call it an ACD but whatever you call it, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system is used to get your customers to the right people to answer their questions or provide them with the right information.

When used effectively it can be great for your customers – they get their calls answered by knowledgeable people in a timely manner and for the companies its great too ... by knowing who your customer is calling and about what you can ensure that you have the right people in place at the right time and you are able to pull the appropriate information from the system to ensure that this practice continues.

However, when an IVR is not working the right way, you are putting your customers in what is known as “IVR hell” – basically your clients are talking to the machine more than to your staff and are in a loop, just going around in circles getting madder and madder.  This is one of the best ways to lose business!

How do you fix it?

Well sometimes the issue or problem might actually be related to the technology itself but more often than not it’s the fact that you are offering too many options to the customer or when they actually do reach a representative that is supposed to be knowledgeable in the area that they are concerned about to hear the response that they are unable to help without additional information – which is more than frustrating!

You need to manage the caller’s expectations and to do this right; you need to ensure that your customers know what information is required BEFORE they speak to your representative – mention it at the start of your IVR and at every hold interval that you need to put in. Make sure that the IVR is actually working – try it yourself ... REGULARLY ... and try it from a customers point of view not with your inside knowledge of who to speak to ... get people from other departments to call in if necessary. If you are able to integrate your IVR into your CRM solution do so – having all of the customers information available including past issues reported is extremely important and useful. Finally and perhaps most IMPORTANT ... ensure that your staff on the other end of the line are able to solve the problem! Finally reaching a live body only to be told that they will need to call back does not help your customer’s mood.

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