Interactive Voice Response
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR and interactive voice response software as well as automatic call answering solutions.
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.
Our PACER and Wizard IVR systems add another dimension to our call center phone system solutions. 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 in-house service agents or transfers the caller to an outside extension.
Pet Peeves of Automated Voice Response
The following is an extract from the article "Pet Peeves of Automated Voice Response" by Robyn Weisman from CRM Buyer:
"It is not a given that people dislike automation. When ATMs began to proliferate during the early 1980s, people flocked to them. They allowed users to perform a host of basic banking transactions without having to wait in a long line for an in-person response. Today, most people choose to avoid teller lines unless they must perform a particularly specialized transaction.
Ask the average person about interactive voice response (IVR) systems, however, and he or she likely will rattle off at least one Kafkaesque story that induced near-homicidal rage. Certainly, this reporter can drum up a recent incident that resulted in a dented phone receiver and assault and battery against a host of other office products.
In trying to cancel DSL service for which I hadn't signed up (don't get me started on that part), I was ping-ponged from menu to menu and from agent to agent. After waiting for 15 minutes to speak with a cancellation agent (and being told why I should reconsider my plans to cancel this service during my hold time), I was disconnected and had to start the process from scratch. By the time I completed the call, half of my workday had evaporated, which, though perhaps cost-effective for the vendor, was not so good for me.
Blame the Setup, Not the Software
However, Art Schoeller, senior CRM analyst at the Yankee Group, cautioned against the assumption that people universally detest automated voice response. "If you did a survey [on IVR systems], I think you'd find a reasonable amount of support," he told CRM Buyer. After all, a good IVR system will tell you what time your spouse's plane is due to land much faster than if you were to wait for a live person to look it up.
Schoeller said the fault lies not with the IVR concept itself, but with its setup and deployment. "Often [systems] are not programmed well, either from the get-go or when they are changed or updated," he noted, adding that companies whose IVR systems adhere to best practices and focus on usability are often quite successful in achieving customer satisfaction .
With that in mind, what are some of the biggest pet peeves customers have with IVR systems? And what types of solutions can be implemented both to assuage customers and to, as Schoeller put it, keep to the "original goal of providing great customer service in a cost-effective fashion"?
1.) Don't Make Me Write It Down!
Years before becoming an IVR analyst for Meta Group, Elizabeth Ussher held a job testing IVR systems for a company that distributed them. She used her grandmother as her guinea pig, concluding that if she could work through a system, anyone could.
Her grandmother's first directive? "Don't make me write it down!" Ussher told CRM Buyer. If a menu offered more than three choices, Ussher found that her grandmother's short-term memory shut down.
Ed Margulies, president of EIGamericas at Enterprise Integration Group, an independent professional services firm specializing in improving IVR use and customer satisfaction, said such mental shutdowns are commonplace.
"From a human factors standpoint, problems [like having too many options] have a tendency to erode the caller's short-term memory," Margulies told CRM Buyer. "If you exhaust the caller's memory, they tend to make menu selection mistakes, or they will ask for operator assistance because they become confused."
Ussher recommended that whenever an IVR system offers more than three choices or more than three levels, it should offer either an easy-to-follow speech-recognition engine that works in a question-and-answer mode or the ability to talk with a real person. If the system uses a speech-recognition engine, it should confirm a user's choices every two or three answers.
2.) (Don't Like) Starting Over
A real-world example perhaps can illustrate users' frustrations with IVR systems. Josh Einhorn, program director at Wise Adult Day Services in Santa Monica, California, is required to schedule appointments with his HMO during normal business hours. However, he also works during normal business hours, so setting up a physical for his son can be, at best, a trying experience.
"First, they ask whether I speak English even though they know I do from when I signed up," he told CRM Buyer. "Then they ask me my location, even though my records [indicate] my primary location. Then I'm given the choice of whether to make an appointment or leave a message, but obviously I'm making an appointment because you can only make one during business hours. If I want to make an appointment, I'm put on hold, but I'm at work, and if I have to take a call or take care of a problem, I have to hang up before I can make that appointment.
"Then I have to start over, through all those layers again," he added. "Even if I know the codes, I can't jump ahead. I have to wait until they've gone through the prompts again. I'm ultimately put on hold anyway, and ultimately I'm out of patience."
Ussher said many companies fail to respond to caller frustration because they do not track reports that log and summarize each call. "That's why there's often no accountability," she said. "They don't see how many calls are completed in reports, how many people either hang up or [defect] to an operator. They just see that calls to customer service are down, not recognizing the reasons behind that......."
To view the entire article, please visit www.crmbuyer.com.
Wizard Simplifies Development
DSC provides IVR software including our IVR wizard development tool for creating interactive voice response applications.
Our IVR software lets you increase IVR development productivity by providing a visual development environment. IVR applications can be defined in minutes using this sophisticated, yet easy to use development tool.
DSC also has available a comprehensive IVR software library known as our IVR Wizard Software Development Kit. This optional package is available for programmers and systems adminstrators who wish to manage IVR programs fromLinux IVR, Unix, or Windows IVR operating environments.
Data collected by your phone ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can be passed to your existing PC, Unix or Web applications through our phone software.
The PACER predictive dialer can automatically call your customers and pass only connected calls to your agents. With our computer telephony software, your telephone and computer work together to provide cost-saving benefits.