Custom IVR Applications
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR Development and custom IVR software and products.
Business phone systems and toll free answering systems (generally 800 numbers and their equivalent) are very popular for service and sales organizations, allowing customers and prospects to call your organization anywhere in the country.
The PACER and Wizard IVR systems add another dimension to our call center phone systems and solutions.
What Is IVR?. An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) processes inbound phone calls, plays recorded messages including information extracted from databases and the internet, and potentially routes calls to either inhouse service agents or transfers the caller to an outside extension.
The following article is recommended to our clients and others who are considering implementing IVR solutions in their organization and wish to employ the best IVR design concepts. A well designed IVR can be a valuable asset to your company, but a system that frustrates and alienates your callers can likewise be a liability.
This article found over the last several years and is a valuable resource for IVR designers and implementors.
Designing Better IVR Systems
Building voice systems that don't alienate callers takes careful planning and management
By HENRY DORTMANS and IAN ANGUS
Pushing phone buttons to communicate
with computers isn’t a new idea. Some
Interactive Voice Response systems are
now well into their second decade of operation.
There exists an enormous base of
experience about what works and what
doesn’t, what customers like or hate.
Despite that, many IVR systems are appallingly
bad, and “talking to computers”
remains one of the most common complaints
callers have about phoning businesses
Some IVR vendors and implementers
still blame those complaints on “problem
callers,” who won’t use their wonderful
systems, and “technophobic executives,”
whose complaints are just a cover for fear
of new technology. After all these years,
such excuses are wearing thin: it’s time for
IVR advocates to stop blaming the victims
and admit that many (perhaps most) IVR
installations are very badly done.
It’s Not All Bad …
Don’t get us wrong: we like IVR. Properly
planned and managed, Interactive Voice
Response has enormous benefi ts for everyone
For callers, IVR can:
Organizations that implement Interactive
Voice Response can:
- Provide easy access to information
and service, at the caller’s convenience, 24
hours a day;
- Be faster than waiting on hold for an
agent in an overloaded (i.e. understaffed)
- Deliver simple information (account
balances, bus schedules) quickly.
Those benefits are real and measurable.
Unfortunately, they are often offset by systems
that seem deliberately designed to
- Deliver some customer services
faster and less expensively than with
- Screen and segment callers, directing
them to the correct agents with the
- Free agents from dealing with routine
inquiries, allowing them the time to
provide better service to customers with
- Obtain valuable reports on caller
needs, concerns, and behaviour;
- Reduce data entry errors.
... and It’s Not the Technology
IVR technology is thoroughly tested and
proven: most units run like refrigerators.
When we audit problem IVR systems installed
and maintained by major suppliers,
we rarely fi nd technical failures. Those
problems we do fi nd typically result from
failure to keep the installation current —
for example, not installing more ports
when calls increase.
The great majority of IVR problems
result from poor menu planning. Too
many organizations spend months getting
competitive bids, reviewing each proposal
in detail, negotiating iron-clad contracts,
and then leave little details like the menu
structure and wording to the last minute.
Or they get the menus right to begin
with, but then leave them unchanged for
months or years, despite shifts in calling
patterns and applications.
The box on page 11 offers some specifi
c suggestions for scripts and menus.
But before you get to that level of detail,
here are some “big picture” guidelines
that we’ve found make all the difference
in planning IVR systems.
Business Strategy First
The starting point for any IVR implementation
(or re-implementation) should be
your business objectives. Why are you
using IVR? What do you want to accomplish?
Some IVR systems are installed to deliver
new services, some to replace existing
ones. Some aim to increase revenues,
others to decrease costs. How does yours
fi t into the organization’s overall plans for
customer contact? How should it relate to
your advertising campaigns, your website,
your call centre? If you can’t answer these
questions, you are not ready for IVR. If
you implement IVR without knowing the
answers thoroughly, expect problems.
Think Like a Customer
Once you know what you would like to
achieve with IVR, ask yourself, “Who will
actually be calling the system, and what
will they want to achieve?”
"On the Line" is a monthly feature, based on
the consulting experience of Angus Dortmans
Associates. For information on Angus Dortmans
consulting services, seminars, and workshops,
call Henry Dortmans at 800-263-4415 ext 300 or
e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Angus
Dortmans website at www.angustel.ca.
Contact DSC today. to learn more about our IVR services and IVR application development software.