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Scale up, tune up and drive down misroutes

Today’s GPS systems are a driver’s best friend, providing directions to where people need to go with pinpoint accuracy. However, today’s consumers don’t often have the same experience with a company’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. Frustrated callers end up in the wrong department, stuck in a phone menu maze, or try to avoid the system altogether by asking for a human being. Misroutes are the culprit. In the last installment of this three part series, we continue down the road towards reducing misroutes and look at the final two strategies to help call center executives improve call routing and hit key IVR metrics.
Companies need to tune up their IVR just like they would their car to ensure technology and choices are up-to-date and routing callers in the right direction.

In my prior two posts we covered the need for companies to build IVR experiences as easy and effective as the GPS on our phones and how companies need to better understand who the customer is and what they are trying to accomplish. Let’s drive through the final two strategies Nuance has identified to improve call center routing and get rid of money-draining and customer-costing misroutes.


Step 4: Test system scalability

A strong GPS must have enough horsepower to process addresses and routing and quickly adapt to changes along the way. Even a slight delay in performance may mean missing the upcoming interstate exit for your sales appointment – forcing you to U-turn or continue driving further away while awaiting a re-route. IVRs must deal with the same issues to ensure they can handle a surge in calls during peak times. The best IVRs are scalable and can increase or decrease call capability when needed. This is critical because when volumes spike and systems are overloaded callers can’t get the information they need, may be misrouted to the wrong department, and become more and more irate. As an example, let’s consider New York City 311.

311 is an increasingly popular service cities use to provide citizens fast access to non-emergency municipal services. With a population of more than eight million people, New York City has one of the largest and most comprehensive 311 services in the country. Residents can access this system 24 hours per day 7 days per week for any non-emergency service, government contact or information request.

For many years, NYC 311 offered customers a touch-tone IVR system with only four press-button options, which were continually re-prioritized from day to day – or even hour to hour – dependent on events. During periods of peak demand, this was especially problematic. For example, if the city was experiencing a bitter cold snap, they might choose to make “heat complaints” one of the four options. For callers with other needs, however, routing options were buried. Callers were routinely misrouted, and agent usage went through the roof.

To achieve scalability, and reduce misroutes and operational costs, NYC 311 modernized their IVR by:

  • Adding capacity to account for periods of heavy demand.
  • Implementing Natural Language Understanding (discussed in part 2 of the series) to create an intuitive, caller-led experience.
  • Creating intelligent routing that moved customers to their intended destinations and empowered agents with the information necessary to streamline interactions.

And despite monthly call volumes increasing by 54 percent, these changes and focus on scalability allowed NYC 311 to increase call containment, agent availability, and call center capability.


Step 5: Optimize and tune

If you’ve traveled this far, hopefully you’ve considered the four previous steps to reduce misroutes – assess caller behaviors, let callers lead the way, use small data to anticipate customer needs, and ensure your system is scalable. Let’s finish our journey with the last step to reduce misroutes – optimizing and tuning.

Life isn’t static. The world around us changes every year. That fantastic GPS we’ve referenced during this series and rely upon everyday must continuously innovate. Maps that took us places last year aren’t valid when roads close or new highways are opened. Much like how a GPS needs to be constantly optimized and tuned, the same holds true for the IVR.

To ensure your IVR is optimized to reduce misroutes, here are some of the simple, annual tune-ups we recommend:

  • Test prompting strategies: Testing different introductory phrases helps you learn what works best for your business and reduces confusion. Ensure prompts are as concise as possible.
  • Test example phrases: When providing examples, test different phrases that unambiguously lead to self-service or a specific queue. This improves clarity and reduces likelihood of callers being misrouted.
  • Optimize your routing rules: Discern if any of your self-service functions repeatedly result in customers zeroing out. If this is the case, you may be better off changing those prompts to route directly to agents.

Phew! We’ve reached the end of our journey on the road to reduce misroutes. We’d love to hear what routes you’ve taken to keep misroutes in check, so reach out and let us know if you found a helpful strategy that wasn’t included in our roadmap. Happy driving!

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Chris Caile

About Chris Caile

Chris Caile joined Nuance in September 2015 as senior solutions marketing manager for Nuance Conversational IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Before joining Nuance, Caile worked in various marketing and sales support positions at Microsoft and Motorola and has over 20 years of experience in the high tech industry. Caile holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Illinois State University with minors in mathematics and economics.