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The 15 Commandments of IVR


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The 15 Commandments of IVR

  1. 1. THE15 Commandments of IVR by Allison Smith
  2. 2. The 15 Commandments of IVR TABLE COMMANDMENT PAGE of #1 Don’t Overestimate Your Listener’s Attention Span 3 CONTENTS #2 Thou Shalt Not Create Fake Mailboxes 4 #3 Keep Things Simple 5 #4 Always Give Callers an Opt- “In” 6 #5 Frontload Important Information 7 #6 Understand What Constitutes a “Prompt” 8 #7 Understand the Effects of Proper Punctuation in Concatenation 9 #8 Thou Shalt Not Give Directions to Your Office/Facility 10 #9 Thou Shalt Give a Pronunciation Guide for Proper Names and Place Names 11 #10 Name Your Company Something That Needs no Special Instruction 12 #11 Don’t Go Overboard with Niceties 13 #12 Read the Copy Out Loud 14 #13 Be Clear on Your Company’s Vision/Image — and be Able to Explain That to Me 15 #14 Don’t Frontload Too Much on the Opening Greeting 16 #15 Write in a Conversational Tone 17by Allison 2
  3. 3. The 15 Commandments of IVR#1 DON’T Keep it simple. Keep it short. Overestimate Your Listener’s Attention Span Resist the temptation to use your main greeting as a way of dazzling customers or overloading them with information now that you have them “cornered.” Impart only the basic amount of information to set the tone and to best TIPS: direct your customers to the appropriate department. Never forget that Keep it simple & short. the purpose of a good opening greeting is to direct your callers to the right department, so that they may be best served, and your staff’s time Avoid over-informing is spent most effectively. Plain and simple. in the opening “main” prompt. Welcome your caller and help them get to the appropriate department quickly. by Allison Smith 3
  4. 4. The 15 Commandments of IVR Thou Shalt#2 NOT A common technique is to manufacture the impression that a company Create Fake is bigger than it really is, by inventing a lengthy menu of mailboxes Mailboxes which technically don’t exist. An impressive, vast menu which goes on for 12, 13, 14 options, all in an effort to make your company look bigger. Keep the opening menu as simple as possible to navigate around. Only feature the mailboxes that are actually assigned. It respects the caller’s TIP: time, it streamlines the system, and it prevents missed messages and botched follow-through. Customers are grateful for three or four simple options, narrowing down the likelihood in their mind that they have chosen the correct department for their inquiry. by Allison Smith 4
  5. 5. The 15 Commandments of IVR KEEP#3 THINGS Reduce the choices into the simplest options. Guide callers to their SIMPLE needed department as quickly as possible. Don’t ask for information to be input – such as pin or account numbers – if the live agent is just going to ask for the information again. TIPS: Always respect the caller’s time and energy. Keep it simple, concise, and don’t be repetitive. by Allison Smith 5
  6. 6. The 15 Commandments of IVR#4 ALWAYS Always Give Even the best-designed IVR systems need a safety switch that will Callers an enable callers to bail out of the menu at any time. Opt- “In” Rather than have a caller opt-out (hanging up and moving on to your competitor) install an escape hatch…but one that is traceable and measures how many people had to resort to using it. TIPS: Determine solutions of how to manage callers through a touch-key There must be a option instead of wearing out the “0” button. plan to address the eventuality that none of the options might be pertinent to your customer. by Allison Smith 6
  7. 7. The 15 Commandments of IVR#5 FRONT LOAD It is critical to offer the most important, time-sensitive, safety-related, Important and crucial information at the top of your phone menu. Information Give an emergency fail-safe escape hatch at the beginning. Then, assign the mailbox options to be top-heavy – those most commonly used or likely to be needed options at the top – and have them cascade down (5 options max!) in likelihood of selection/importance. TIPS: If you offer a service in It will improve call sorting and efficiency on your end. It will also be a which consumers could more user-friendly method of handling your callers, vastly improving have a dire or imminent their experience in your call structure. need to reach someone immediately, you must offer an “escape hatch” as a first point of triaging calls. by Allison Smith 7
  8. 8. The 15 Commandments of IVR Understand#6 What What constitutes a prompt? Constitutes a “Prompt” Basically, from edit point to edit point. Where a prompt needs to be cut in order to be a free-floating entity, ready to be plugged into your phone tree anywhere it needs to be linked with other prompts. The prompt below would be universally recognized to be a prompt: TIPS: IVR (short for “Thank you for calling Morrison, Incorporated – the nation’s number- Interactive Voice one ranked search engine optimization company. Please make your Response) is a selection at any time. For sales, press 1. For Accounting, press 2. For technology that automates interactions Marketing, press 3. For all other inquiries, press 0. Thanks again for with telephone callers. calling Morrison, Incorporated.” A prompt is a spoken piece of information or a direction to educate a caller on what action to take. by Allison Smith 8
  9. 9. The 15 Commandments of IVR Understand#7 The Effects of You can easily save yourself the trouble of typing out a lengthy explanation if PROPER you simply adhere to a basic protocol when writing prompts. For example, a Punctuation in painfully simple protocol often involves nothing more than using capital letters, Concatenation ellipses, and periods. Starting off a sentence with the capital letter: “Your pin number” ... definitely lets the voice talent know that it’s the start of the thought, and when voicing it, we will “launch” the prompt as such, with a strong “start.” TIPS: Add ellipses after that phrase: “Your pin number…” Adhering to a basic … this effectively communicates to the announcer that this phrase starts off protocol – using strong and will be followed by something else – whether it’s the sequence of the capital letters, ellipses, and periods where customer’s pin numbers or something like: “…is incorrect.” needed – will help you clearly communicate If you write: “…your pin number.” information to your … The voice talent will instinctively know that this phrase is to concatenate with a listeners. previous thought, such as “Please press 9 to…” but needs to end in a finite way. And if you put ellipses on either side of the phrase “...your pin number...” ... indicates that it can be concatenated anywhere in a sequence, and therefore needs to be read with no distint start or finish. by Allison Smith 9
  10. 10. The 15 Commandments of IVR Thou Shalt#8 NOT What seldom gets taken into consideration is how overwhelming it Give Directions is for clients to hear a description of each turn onto every off-ramp as To Your you approach the office from all possible directions. Some of these Office/Facility directions can get frighteningly detailed! It’s one of those aspects of the modern phone tree which many people feel compelled to include. Most agree that they are time-wasting and TIPS: obsolete, and IVR menus would be refreshingly more concise and streamlined without in-depth directional instructions. Provide callers with your physical address and major cross streets How wonderful, instead, would it be to hear: only. “We’re located off Drake Avenue, in the Fisher Medical Park. Program 1225 Fisher Lane, Detroit, Michigan into any GPS-enabled device for detailed directions to our facility. by Allison Smith 10
  11. 11. The 15 Commandments of IVR Thou Shalt Give#9 a Pronunciation A clear, informative pronunciation guide is an extremely beneficial Guide for Proper Names feature to any IVR script especially one which has the possibility of and Place multiple pronunciations. Think of which words have a good chance of Names be pronounced multiple ways, and indicate to your voice talent which way you’d like them to go. When submitting your phone tree with a menu of your personnel’s TIPS: names, please provide a guide (either in a paragraph prefacing the script, or right next to the name, in brackets) explaining how they You may know how to pronounce all the should be pronounced. employees names, but the person recording Similes are a good way to clarify. (“Saier” sounds like “player”). Make the prompts may not. sure to also capitalize emphasis points (“Tajera” is pronounced Creating a “ta-HAIR-ah”). pronunciation guide will be helpful and appreciated. by Allison Smith 11
  12. 12. The 15 Commandments of IVR Name Your#10 Company If you are starting a new company, consider the following when you are Something That Needs choosing a name for your business. Always to take into consideration NO SPECIAL how easy the name will be to hear and say. Imagine someone hearing Instruction your company name for the first time and then later typing it into a web browser. Will they immediately know how you spell it just by the way it sounds? You want to ensure that visitors land at your website without fail every time; that your site is easy to find; and that the complex and/or TIPS: unique spelling of your company’s name isn’t derailing their search. You’ve decided to call your new company Some of the most recognizable and profitable companies operating “Ignyshyn.” Although today do so under names which have practically no chance of creative and imaginative, mis-interpretation, mis-pronunciation, and have zero confusion it could create problems associated with the names: Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google. whne people go to search for it – how are they supposed to know The name should speak for itself. It should stand alone. It should not be it’s not spelled like an unpronounceable in-joke, and it only benefits you and your company “Iginition”? Simplicity and accessibility are key if you create as simple a path as possible for customers to find you. — the name should be able to stand alone. by Allison Smith 12
  13. 13. The 15 Commandments of IVR#11 DON’T We are sensitive to the fact that customers and clients might have a Go Overboard with Niceties bit of a delay before they are assisted by a live agent – and rightfully so. We are more than aware that their time is valuable and that waiting – for even a relatively short period of time – can erode the customer’s patience and heighten the possibility of them hanging up and going elsewhere to have their needs met. TIPS: Always keep customers time on hold as brief as possible. Keep your on-hold system deliberately concise, fact-filled, interesting – and thank By streamlining both prompts and on- them once for their understanding while they wait for service. hold messaging to be useful, informative, Fine-tune your response time and make sure that the customer always concise, and genuine, you’re maximizing has an out by a reliable call-back option (which stays true to its promise your efficiency, and of keeping them in queue and stays loyal to that estimate of when sending the strongest they can expect a call-back). Or use a dedicated voicemail box which message you can to is serviced regularly and which doesn’t become a catch-all dumping your customers that their patience is most ground for messages. definitely appreciated. by Allison Smith 13
  14. 14. The 15 Commandments of IVR Read The#12 Copy There’s a huge difference between seeing your IVR prompts written on OUT the page and actually having them hit your ear – either by you intoning LOUD them, or having them read out loud to you. IVR prompts are an aural experience. Callers will listen to them. It’s surprising how many writers of IVR systems don’t have the opportunity – or don’t think it necessary – to hear the prompts in their spoken form. TIPS: Many neglect to hear what their prompts will actually sound like and sometimes awkwardness and phrasing problems only come to light Hearing what IVR prompts will sound after they are recorded. like is a vastly different experience from Hearing what IVR prompts will sound like is a vastly different experience eyeballing a script. from eyeballing a script. Lock yourselves in their office or find an empty Listen to the prompts conference room to better hear what the prompts will sound like. You’ll before you have them be surprised by what clarifications or changes may be needed once you recorded. Read them get the prompts on their feet and hear what your customers will hear. aloud or have them read aloud to you, or better yet, do both. by Allison Smith 14
  15. 15. The 15 Commandments of IVR BE CLEAR#13 on Your Why should your telephone system be any different? Company’s Vision and be Able to Explain That to Me Is your company a stoic, older, established and conservative firm, with a similar clientele? Or are you a young, irreverent startup, looking to create a hip, almost aloof persona? Or are you somewhere in between? To know the mood, feel, and personality of the company is a great help to voice talent when assigned the task of voicing the IVR prompts TIPS: for your telephone system. The sound and attitude can be adapted to match the image you’d like to convey. If your clientele is straight Communicate your company’s image in business, or no flashiness or showiness evident, or if their needs are order for your IVR urgent or fast-paced, it’s good to know all that. prompts to match your company’s personality. If you’re catering to a generally older client base (or a client base If your clientele is whose health/hearing/reaction time may be compromised) we can straight business or its take that into consideration and be more metered and deliberate in our needs are urgent and pace and delivery. A more informal, accessible company may desire a fast-paced – it’s good to know all that. conversational, more casual approach. by Allison Smith 15
  16. 16. The 15 Commandments of IVR#14 DON’T People’s Attention Spans Are Shorter Than You Think. Frontload Too Much on the Opening It’s a blend between the oft-quoted axiom about “only having one shot at Greeting making a first impression,” and the truism that people just plain do not have the time or the patience to listen to a seemingly endless and wordy opening prompt. TIPS: There’s many other venues in which to tout your product and give customers as much information as they need. Set up a dedicated information line – and People’s attention spans are shorter than make it a line item in your IVR (“To hear more about XYZ’s patented solvents you think. and why they are the nation’s #1 choice in non-toxic and environmentally- friendly solvent solutions, press 5…”). Keep your opening message brief, factual, and even a little Use your on-hold program as a way of educating/promoting/selling; making curiosity-piquing. good use of that limbo time while customers are on hold. But try your best to not look upon the opening prompt as holding the customer in captivity and thinking of the opening prompt as a commercial. Keep your opening message brief, factual, and even a little curiosity-piquing. by Allison Smith 16
  17. 17. The 15 Commandments of IVR Write in a#15 Conversational IVR designers and writers are getting farther and farther away from the TONE automaton style of years past – they are less interested in fostering the robotic, unemotional voice once thought to be a necessary element in IVR systems. The tendency is moving more towards an automated voice which sounds conversational, candid, and more like an actual person. TIPS: The former gold standard of an automated android was prized for the fact that there was no confusion as whether or not this was a recording The IVR is the entry point into your you were encountering; it made the vocal style a non-issue and even company. left the corporate identity of the company a bit of a mystery until you actually spoke to a flesh-and-blood human. The paradigm has shifted The way in which into the thinking that the IVR sets the tone for the caller. Your IVR is the your IVR prompts are written and voiced entry point into your company – and especially if your product projects should reflect the an essence of warmth, humanness, and personability – the way in which “first impression” you your IVR prompts are written and voiced should reflect that. want to make on your callers. by Allison Smith 17
  18. 18. The 15 Commandments of IVR Visit AsteriskExchange to learn more about IVR Prompts and other Asterisk Add-ons. by Allison Smith 18