Neglected IVR Best Practices That Really Count For Success

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You’re not alone if you’ve found yourself endlessly pressing buttons while navigating an IVR menu, desperate for a simple solution. Most organizations neglect to prioritize the user experience when designing their IVR systems, resulting in frustrated customers and lost business opportunities.

With a carefully crafted IVR, your brand can stand out from the crowd by providing a positive experience right from the start. Let’s delve into four must-know IVR best practices that transform your IVR into a potent tool for customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Extend Your Branding to Your IVR System

When your IVR system truly reflects your brand, your customers feel like they’re in the right place. It should be as polished as your website or store, creating brand cohesion and trust for your callers. It may be their first time interacting with your company, or a caller may be a regular customer—either way, each caller expects to receive a consistent experience.

The old, robotic IVR voice? It’s time for an upgrade. Your IVR should exemplify your brand’s unique personality, voice, and style, and messaging should also be consistent between all of your platforms.

Imagine calling your favorite coffee shop and being greeted by a warm, familiar voice that reminds you of the cozy atmosphere of their locations. As you can imagine, most callers would feel more at ease and patient when greeted with something that feels welcoming and familiar.

Here’s a helpful guide to auditing and branding your IVR system:

  • Review your current IVR: Call your line and listen to the menu, noting what sounds like it reflects your brand and what feels off to you.
  • Define your brand voice: Develop a voice by asking, if your brand were a person, how would it speak? What kind of tone and language would it use? Take note of any descriptors that stand out, such as “calming” or “confident,” to guide you through the next steps.
  • Customize audio elements: Work with voice actors that can match your brand’s tone, or opt for text-to-speech technology. Choose options with varied and natural-sounding voices. Find an audio track or offer announcements on your hold line that align with your brand.
  • Revise your script: Guided by your brand voice notes, carefully rewrite your IVR scripts, including your greetings and menu options. Think of ways to add unique details that relate to your brand and the customer to make them less generic.
  • Test and get feedback: Routinely review your IVR system with fresh ears. Regularly survey callers to get a pulse on how they like your updated system, and be willing to make adjustments.

A self-service IVR system doesn’t have to feel sterile, even though it’s the norm. Adding just a few changes that align with your brand can create a more memorable experience for your customers.

Transfer the Caller’s Information With Them

Have you ever felt like a broken record, repeating the same information as you’re passed between IVR menu options? This can take up a lot of time, leading to dropped calls and customer complaints.

Always ensure that callers only need to provide their information once, whether moving through menus or being transferred to an agent.

Most call centers don’t embrace advanced IVR solutions that store and relay customer information, an adjustment that benefits both customers and call agents in the long run. So, you’ll be a cut above the rest if you take the time to make this change.

To get started, follow these steps:

  • Implement advanced IVR software: Choose an IVR system such as Nextiva to store and reroute your customer’s information as they move through the menu options.
  • Integrate your management systems: Next, integrate your customer relationship management (CRM) software.  If you store information in customer-facing software like Salesforce, Freshdesk, or HubSpot, your IVR software may have specific API integrations to connect the two. Make sure to adjust any specific settings and workflows to ensure the caller’s information properly transfers.
  • Educate your agents: Now that your system is in place, it’s time to let your call agents know about the shift and update their responsibilities accordingly. Your advanced IVR may be able to assign customer calls to agents based on the information transferred, with the information easily displayed for them. Ensure your agents are aware of the new system to avoid asking for repetitive details.
  • Test the system before launching it: New systems often have issues, and it’s better to iron them out internally rather than upsetting callers. So, make sure to thoroughly test your new software before going live.

If your callers only have to share details such as their name, account number, address, or verification number once, then you know your system has made leaps and bounds from the traditional IVR menu setup.

Rely on Smart Call Routing

Direct routing, location-based routing, and call routing based on the time of day are common for IVRs. However, smart call routing uses AI and data to do more of the call routing work for you and your customers.

This technology doesn’t just route calls; it intelligently directs customers to the agent best suited to their needs based on a deep analysis of their input, sentiment, intent, and previous interactions.

Why make the leap to smart routing? The benefits unfold in the quality of each customer interaction. Imagine a system that recognizes a customer’s voice and understands their history and preferences, ensuring the most knowledgeable and available agent always greets them.

Furthermore, smart call routing is a boon for efficiency. Ensuring callers are matched with the right agent from the get-go drastically reduces transfer times and the frustration of being lost in a maze. The outcome is a smoother, faster resolution process that customers will notice and appreciate.

But the advantages don’t end with customer satisfaction. The insights gleaned from smart routing can inform broader business strategies, offering a clearer picture of customer behaviors and preferences.

  • Predictive analytics: Forecast customer demand to better prepare for their needs.
  • Customer segmentation: Tailor services by analyzing patterns that allow you to customize offers and services to your callers.
  • Product feedback: Guide development with insights from call mentions and survey data.
  • Operational efficiency: Streamline processes by identifying and troubleshooting common issues.

Minding this data and embracing AI technology ensures customers get the right agent with the right skills at the right time for their particular issue.

Ensure Your IVR Prioritizes Accessibility

Most organizations forget to consider whether their IVR system can accommodate the needs of a wide variety of callers, specifically those living with disabilities. This drastically reduces the amount of customers who can be helped through your IVR system.

There are many accessibility options to consider. Consider integrating helpful solutions for those with visual, hearing, limited mobility, physical, and sensory impairments.

Here are a few helpful suggestions that ensure your IVR is set up to accommodate the needs of various common disabilities:

Visual impairments

Navigating traditional IVR systems is particularly challenging for those with visual impairments. One of the best solutions is integrating text-to-speech technology into your IVR menu. This way, callers can speak to share information and make selections rather than entering it on the phone’s number pad.

Many visually impaired individuals use braille display devices, which are often compatible with text-to-speech software. Make sure that your IVR system is compatible with these devices and ready to assist visually impaired individuals. If not, consider updating your system to support these devices.

Hearing impairments

Individuals with hearing impairments may struggle with traditional IVR systems. Low-quality, generic, automated messages further complicate the situation.

To accommodate those who are hearing-impaired, make sure your IVR system includes text-based prompts and options so that these individuals can easily understand and navigate through the menu.

You may also be able to offer a menu option that connects hearing-impaired callers to a website interface or a mobile app that mirrors the IVR menu. This gives customers the option to review text information on a larger, clearer screen.

Mobility and physical limitations

For customers with limited mobility or physical limitations, simplicity and ease of use are key. Designing IVR menus with fewer, more straightforward options reduces the need for complex interactions.

Instead of offering a cluttered and long list of menu options, provide a few main options with sub-menu options as needed.

Voice recognition technology also plays a crucial role in accessibility, allowing users to navigate services without the physical strain of repeated button presses.

For example, an advanced system may immediately detect the number and connect it to their account if a customer calls. This eliminates the need to manually input account numbers and other details. An automated solution can save time and effort for both the customer and the agent. 

Cognitive disabilities

Accommodating individuals with cognitive disabilities requires a thoughtful approach to IVR design. Clear, concise language, the option to repeat information without penalty, and minimal background noise are essential.

Additionally, providing the ability to control audio playback speed can help users process information at their own pace.

Choose calm and unobtrusive hold music. This can help individuals with cognitive disabilities better focus and understand the information presented to them. Make sure the volume is on the lower side, as too loud music can overwhelm some individuals.

Providing a callback option may also be helpful for individuals who struggle with long wait times or remembering information given during a call. They can then continue their day and receive a call back when an agent is available.

Universal design principles

Adopting universal design principles in your IVR system benefits individuals with disabilities and enhances the user experience for all customers. Features like low-volume hold music and minimal background noise contribute to a more pleasant and less stressful interaction for everyone, so don’t feel like you’re alienating your users by considering these accommodations.

Prioritizing accessibility in your IVR system is a powerful statement about your brand’s values and dedication to equitably serving all customers. By incorporating these accommodations, you embrace best practices and legal requirements and build deeper, more meaningful connections with your entire customer base.

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