In the world of customer service, IVR is a staple. It’s your bread and butter. Traditional, but reliable. And many companies (smartly) invest time and resources ensuring that their IVR is successful – in first call resolution, containment, reducing misroutes and decreasing average handle time. But as I continue to work with customers to assess their automated systems, I see that some of the most successful customers often realize one thing: improving the IVR isn’t a one-time effort. You have to play the long game. Making the most out of your IVR requires an ongoing and iterative commitment. And if you make that effort, companies can see improved business results and lower operating costs.
Over decades working with customers to assess the performance of their automated systems, we’ve identified three practices your business can adopt to enhance and elevate the performance of your IVR.
1. Understand that no IVR is an island:
It’s no longer sufficient to analyze the IVR in isolation. Your customers interact with you on multiple channels, at different times, to perform different tasks. Knowing how IVR self-service performs in relation to other customer touch points is essential to understanding the overall customer experience and where efficiencies can be introduced to improve the effectiveness of automated systems and enable quick and easy customer care experiences.
When companies look at IVR performance in isolation, they risk focusing too much on one area of concern and consequently may overlook other opportunities. There are three factors that affect the number and types of calls the IVR will process and resulting automated system performance – overall experience, industry context, and business processes. Investments made in new or emerging digital channels can decrease the number and change the composition of calls an IVR will receive, because customers receive self-service outside the IVR. Changes to your industry can similarly impact the number of and significance of calls (for example, an increase in monthly account fees could affect the number and type of calls a retail bank might receive). And business process changes, such as enrolling more customers in automatic payments, could decrease overall usage, and with it, the number of payments processed through your IVR.
2. Use data to monitor your performance
This is an area with huge opportunity, both in the long-term and short-term, that’s currently falling short of its potential. Every company has access to significant amounts of data, but they need to actually use that information to measure performance and implement changes. Data is more than just running reports – there are plenty of dashboards showing company data points, but companies need to look at more complex analyses to see real value.
Data on callers’ usage of self-service functions, including areas of failure and agent request, can also help you predict and anticipate future customer behavior, increasing the efficiency of your IVR and improving customer experience.
3. Analyze user behavior
Monitoring your performance is important, but it becomes invaluable when you pair it with analyzing how customers are actually using your services. Unless you examine data periodically about how people are using the self-service application, and use that data to drive improvements, you may find that the performance of your application in that channel declines over time. This is often because of a divergence that develops between how your service was designed to be used and how people actually use it. This is what I like to call “usage drift.” That drift can become pronounced if a lot of time has gone by since you most recently looked at user behavior and system performance together.
Having an iterative, data-driven process to compare user behavior and system design provides you with the opportunity to gain insights into developing your automated systems to meet customer needs. With this knowledge, you can get ahead of your competitors by creating personalized, anticipatory, automated solutions.