This article was originally posted in our LinkedIn group (link). You are most welcome to share your view and experience.

While we often hear people around us complaining about endless IVR menus, in the Bright Index benchmarking we see that top performing centres have a larger proportion of self service calls without their customer satisfaction scores dropping. Customers appreciate a swift self service experience for simple queries as much as they dislike being lost in the IVR jungle.

Automation is of course attractive to businesses thanks to the positive effect on costs. Banks saw this early and now have as much as 70% of all calls handled by an IVR system, however many of them are now regretting this because they want to build relationships and sell more to these customers.

The trick is to get the balance right by continuously measuring its success and find pitfalls, and listening to both quantitative and qualitative feedback. When planning and implementing a self service solution a common starting point would be to make a list of your top 10 most common customer queries and list them according to value (to you) and complexity (for them). The queries scoring low on both are the ones you should look at including in your self service IVR.

Once your initial structure is in place the real development begins by finding out what’s working (out) for the customer. First of all, remember to measure whats relevant – not just whats easy. For example:

  • How (long) *much* time do customers spend in self service – record this for each available option.
  • What is the abandonment rate – again record for each option? When is the customer most likely to hang up or start over?
  • Measure popularity and arrange options accordingly.
  • Don’t forget about the qualitative data! Capture direct customer feedback from agents or from customer satisfaction surveys.

Second, make sure your design is easy to follow and that there should always be an easy way to speak to an agent. Customers will be sure to let you know if you get this wrong!

Recent automation statistics:

  • On average in Bright’s benchmarking about 34% of all calls are handled by an automated solution.
  • An average customer spends 80 seconds in a self-service solution.
  • Around 15% of the calls are abandoned before they have come to the end, down from 20% a year ago.

What is the view on automation in your organisation and how do you maintain your Self Service IVR?

Looking forward to discuss!

PS. Don’t miss out on Richard Wilson’s lovely rant about IVR (and speech recognition in particular) here:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-wilson-on-hold/4od