IVR Analytics: Metrics That Say Your IVR System Is Working

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When used correctly, an interactive voice response (IVR) system can increase business efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and lower operational costs. 

But how do you know if your IVR system is doing its job? 

5 Metrics That Say Your IVR System Is Working

While numbers don’t always tell the whole story, using IVR analytics is one of the best ways to at least get a baseline reading of system performance. Using these metrics allows you to look at the inner workings of your IVR system so you can see how well it’s guiding your customers. 

In terms of key metrics, there are five in particular you should focus on.

A Containment Rate of 70-90%

Also known as self-service completion rate, containment rate refers to the percentage of callers who solve their issues within an IVR system without a live agent needing to step in. 

Say, for instance, a customer was calling to check on their order status. Ideally, they would be able to find this information quickly within the system and end their call without requiring help from a live agent. 

The higher the containment rate the better because this translates into lower call center operational costs, as you won’t need as many agents handling phone calls. On the other hand, a lower containment rate can be problematic because this means a high percentage of callers need the assistance of a live agent. 

This, in turn, requires more manpower, resulting in higher operational costs. Not to mention, this can create more stress for agents. 

For a benchmark, you’ll want to aim for a containment rate of 70-90% (depending on your IVR’s abilities). If you can reach that, it usually means the majority of your callers are able to resolve their issues without having to be routed to a live agent. They’re able to call, take care of their task, and move on. As long as your containment rate falls within this range, you should be in good shape. 

Conversely, if it’s lower than 70%, this means you have opportunities for improvement within your system. Some examples can include simplifying menu options, adding new menu options, or making your menu more clear. 

An Average IVR Handle Time of 2-5 Minutes

Handle time is how long callers spend in your IVR system from arrival to the completion of their task or transfer to an agent. The goal for the caller, as well as your business, is for the caller to spend the least amount of time in your IVR system. 

They should completely resolve their issue or get to the person they need without any unnecessary waiting or complications. This is a huge part of providing a positive customer experience, and keeping the IVR handle time within a reasonable timeframe indicates overall system efficiency. 

The IVR handle time will vary depending on what a caller is doing. For example, if someone is simply looking to check their account balance, this will happen faster than if they need to do something more advanced like set up a new PIN number, change their password, or make a payment. 

But overall, the average IVR handle time benchmark is 2-5 minutes. Of course, the lower the handle time the better, but this is a realistic number to shoot for. 

If you stay within this timeframe, you should be able to provide a solid customer experience and prevent unnecessary caller frustration. 

If you find that your handle time exceeds five minutes, you should look into ways you can prioritize self-service so callers can resolve common issues on their own. For example, you may want to simplify menu options to prevent callers from having to navigate through complicated menus with layers of information. 

A 30% or Lower Transfer Rate

Transfer rate is the percentage of callers transferred to a live agent from an IVR system. 

Like handle time, this too is something you want to keep low. That’s because a high transfer rate of 70% or more indicates problems with your IVR, such as poor menus, confusing prompts, or a lack of understanding of what your customers are calling for. 

More specifically, you should aim for a transfer rate of 30% or lower. That way, you can reserve live agents or employees for complex issues that really demand them. In turn, agents can spend as much time as they need with callers to fully resolve the issues, which should lower operational costs and employee burnout. 

That means customers with issues that require personal attention will receive the personalized help they need, and a higher percentage should walk away happy. 

What you don’t want is to wind up with a high volume of callers who get routed to live agents for minor issues that could be handled directly through your IVR without the need for human intervention. When this happens, it can put a strain on agents, force you to spend more on manpower, and generally hurt the overall customer experience. 

So keep a close eye on your transfer rate. If it reaches 70% or higher or starts approaching that number, it’s a good idea to assess your IVR system and look for potential areas for improvement. Some ideas include using short, simple menus with plain language and offering more self-service options. 

You might also look into using a natural language IVR system, rather than touch-tone keypad entry, which gives callers the ability to speak their requests directly rather than navigating through a sometimes complex and multi-layered menu.

A 5-10% Opt-Out Rate

Opt-out rate is the percentage of callers who hang up or forcibly transfer themselves to an agent. 

The whole purpose of an IVR system is to automate and streamline the call process for customers, ensuring their issue is resolved without unnecessary friction. Therefore, you want callers to engage with your IVR system and answer their own queries independently without becoming upset or needing to transfer to a live agent. 

In other words, you want to give them a real chance of resolving their issue directly through your IVR system. So, the lower the opt-out rate, the better. 

When it comes to concrete numbers, a 5-10% opt-out rate is a good benchmark to strive for. If you keep it within this range, your IVR is likely performing well and no major adjustments need to be made. 

However, if it’s over 10%, you’ll need to diagnose the problem and actively work toward finding solutions to lower it. 

Again, keeping menus simple and concise with easily identifiable choices is a good starting point. Also, make sure the system is set up so that it doesn’t transfer callers to agents unless it’s absolutely necessary. If your IVR system can effectively handle their request, there’s no need to route them to an agent. 

Error Rate Under 10%

Measuring error rate involves keeping track of how many technical errors and failures occur during IVR interactions. 

Here are some examples:

  • Misunderstood input: When an IVR system fails to understand a caller’s input, which can include an unclear prompt or speech recognition error
  • Technical issues: When an IVR system itself is experiencing issues, which may be due to problems like software glitches or server outages
  • Limited functionality: When an IVR system isn’t equipped to handle a caller’s specific request

Error rate is measured by dividing the number of callers that experience errors by the total number of interactions within a given period. If, for example, eight callers experienced errors out of 100 interactions, there would be an 8% error rate. 

Obviously, you want the least amount of errors happening within your IVR system. But to quantify what an acceptable number is, 10% should be your maximum error rate. However, lower is even better, so you’ll want to do everything within your power to keep this number to an absolute minimum. 

Some common ways to accomplish this include regularly testing your IVR system to ensure it’s functioning properly, providing callers with clear prompts that leave no room for misinterpretation, and offering multi-modal input where callers have the choice between touch-tone keypad entry and voice. That way, they have more flexibility and can provide you with information in the way that’s easiest for them. 

Closing Thoughts

Monitoring IVR analytics is essential for ensuring your IVR system operates at its best. By focusing on these five metrics, you can gain valuable insights into how callers are interacting with your system. 

Armed with this data, you can determine which areas are operating efficiently and which ones need your attention. That way, you can make the right adjustments to streamline processes, improve the caller experience, and maximize your ROI. 

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