IVR stands for interactive voice response. They are also often referred to as an auto attendant or a voice menu. They are usually the first thing anyone calling in to a business will hear. They comprise of one or more lists, that give the caller options to select from. The end result being that the caller will be directed through to the person most likely to be able to assist with the call. At least that’s the plan.
THE POINT OF AN IVR
Is to get the call answered by the right person as quickly and easily as possible – No customer wants to spend hours on the phone.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Studies show that nearly 75% of customers won’t do business if their first call is handled badly. The IVR is usually the first thing a potential customer hears and so it’s a great chance to make a good impression. If it works well, the customer should be guided quickly and easily to the right people first time.
DO YOU NEED ONE?
Usually companies will only need an IVR when they get different departments dealing with different things. If you only have a couple of employees and they both do sales and accounts, you may not need and IVR. The main reason smaller companies get an IVR is to appear bigger and more professional. You can have an IVR with three options all ringing the same person which will give the impression that you have three departments when in reality it could just be a one man or woman business.
THINKING ABOUT AN IVR
• Firstly, remember why you are creating an IVR: to get the call answered by the right person as quickly and easily as possible – No customer wants to spend hours on the phone.
• Think about what types of calls your business gets most. Do you get a lot of calls to the sales department but not as many to accounts or support?
• Decide the final destinations you would like different types of calls to end up at. There’s no point sending a sales call through to a support team. Remember the more final destinations the longer your IVR will be.
• Decide if one menu will be enough. It is possible to have sub menus leading off the main one to get further information on a customer’s needs.
• Ensure you have enough phones and people to answer them in the right places. Not all options have to lead to a live operator as you can route the calls to any voicemail box, automated hotline or call queue within your network. You can even have certain options going through to the same destination.
• Decide on an order for the list that will heard by the caller. Are you attracting a lot of new customers? If so maybe sales should be option 1. If you have people ringing up for information on an account, they have with you maybe put that department first. Remember it’s what your customer’s needs are likely to be that should come first
• Once you have this you can begin thinking about the voice the caller will here. Smaller companies often record their own IVR’s whereas bigger companies can pay thousands of pounds for professional voice artists and editing. Decide the best method for your business.
• Think about if you would prefer a man or a woman’s voice? Think about accents and tones of voice. For national businesses a local accent might not be appropriate. Would you like the caller to hear a happy sounding voice? Or an excited one? Or a serious one? A lot will depend on your business message and culture.
• Some companies use the IVR as a marketing tool as well. Is this appropriate for you? Would you like to say anything about your business before the menu itself is heard?
• Write a script for the IVR. You will need an opening welcome message and a message relating to each option with a number assigned to it. Think about the wording carefully and try to keep options short and simple. Try to cover as many different types of call as you can without having a long list that takes forever to get through. This is where sub menus can be helpful.
• Record your messages. Consider the sound quality on the device you’re planning to use to record them. Also consider any background noise and even where you will take breaths. Think about the time gaps in between messages or at the start and end of the message. You will need to record each message separately. It’s probably worth repeating this step a few times and choosing the one you like the best. If you’re using a professional service, they will obviously do this step for you as well as editing the end result.
• Once you’re happy with the end result and have made any edits you feel necessary it’s time to put the IVR into practice. Your phone company will know the best way to get this up and working
• Once the IVR is up test it. Test it through all the various options and make sure the call ends up in the right place. Have as many people test it and feedback as you can. Take the customer journey and change anything that you feel doesn’t quite work.
• Open with a friendly greeting
• Make sure to state the company name so the caller knows they’re through to the right place
• If you’re going to use a marketing message keep it short and relevant
• Keep all options simple and easy to understand
• Callers should be easily able to identify the option they require
• Don’t over complicate it
• Always provide the option to go back to the main menu or to hear the options again
• The script is arguably the most influential part of an IVR – so spend time getting it right.
• Never lose sight of the point which is to get the call answered by the right person as quickly and easily as possible – No customer wants to spend hours on the phone.
THINGS TO AVOID
• Long greetings or marketing messages
• Unnecessary options or menus
• Too many choices. As a general rule try to keep it less than five options per menu
• Speaking too quickly or slowly
• Being overly nice – messages need to be helpful not just friendly
• Making customers go through the IVR only to realise you’re closed
• Using several different voices or volumes throughout the IVR
• Using complicated language or industry jargon
• Poor sound quality and background noise during your IVR
• Thinking your IVR is ever finished – Customer needs change all the time so your IVR should reflect that and be reviewed regularly
There are companies who will record all your IVR messages for you. They can also record voicemail greetings and on hold messages as well. Getting these done professionally will improve the sound quality and the editing of these messages, however there is quite a cost involved with this. They usually charge several hundreds or even thousands of pounds for this service as they have to pay actors and editors and maintain expensive software etc. They will however make sure the IVR runs smoothly and sounds as good as possible. It’s just a case of weighing up the expense against the benefits
BIRCHILLS BESPOKE MESSAGES
Birchills Telecom can now offer a professional recording service of its own at a much more competitive price than other companies. Your greetings will be recorded and edited in house and we’ll even upload and set up you IVR if you have the Birchills system.
WHAT WE CAN OFFER
• Professionally Recorded Greetings
• Your script brought to life
• Free advice on how to structure your IVR and menu’s
• Friendly voice actors and actresses
• Crisp and clear recordings
• Recorded in any style you choose
• Quick turnaround times
• Massively cheaper than other companies
If you’d like to know more about the Birchills professional voice message service, click here or please call us on 01922 21 33 33 or you can email us at email@example.com
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