At Forty 7 Ronin, we deal with many complex challenges in the interactive voice response (IVR) industry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some relatively simple fixes every company can make to improve performance. One of the most effective? Implementing IVR script best practices approach to make your system easier to navigate and more customer-friendly.
Clunky IVR scripts, bad voice direction and overly wordy material can make your IVR system annoying, slow and difficult for caller engagement. And, like we’ve said many times, an IVR system that frustrates customers is bad for business and bad for your overall brand image. Let’s take a look at some common IVR script examples with mistakes and simple ways to fix them.
1. Your IVR’s Scripted Tone Doesn’t Match the Actor or the Application
Have you ever felt chastised or talked down to by a company’s interactive voice response? Irritated at the voice or the cadence? It seems silly to be mad at a machine, right? However, this is a common issue for IVR users and it starts with the IVR script. Too often, the voice direction and tone don’t match the actor, the brand or the application.
Think about it this way. When you call a hospital to inquire about a sick loved one, should the auto attendant be stern and abrupt or calm and compassionate? When calling for technical information, do you want to engage with an attendant that has a bubbly, conversational tone, or one that gets to the point quickly and politely? The answer is to write your script to fit your customers, your application and your brand. And also pick voice actors that fit those needs. You can find some great information on this subject from our partner GM Voices.
A subtler consideration is the pace of the speech. Your delivery pace provides an undertone that your callers might not appreciate. Do not speak too fast (or too slowly), particularly if you are providing specific information such as a phone number.
Best Practice: The voice that greets and directs your callers is your brand in sound. The voice itself has a persona that can convey a number of emotions. Make sure that the human qualities callers associate with the voice match the brand your organization seeks to project. Select your voice brand carefully.
2. Your IVR Script Prompts Are Too Complex
Striking a balance between being informative and keeping it simple to use can feel a little confusing. Many companies make the mistake of assuming their callers need a lot of information up front. However, your customer knows who they are calling and why, so make it easy for them to get where they want to be. Here’s a simple IVR script example greeting:
Thank you for calling (Company Name). If you know your party’s extension, you may enter it at any time.
For billing, press 1
For new customers, press 2
For technical support, press 3
For all other questions, press 4
You’ll note that this is a pretty simple greeting. That’s great for your customers, who are busy and want to get to the proper destination quickly, not listen to a bunch of company virtues. Here’s an example of a prompt further in the system.
Thank you for calling technical support. Your call will be answered by the next available specialist.
In addition, your prompts may be inadvertently complex because they are out of order. In most circumstances, place the most frequently selected prompts first. Then your callers hear the option they want and can move on. There are exceptions to this guideline. You may want to put self-service options first or arrange the options to minimize errors.
Again, you’ll notice that a lot of time is not wasted explaining anything to the customer. They know the drill, so don’t irritate them with extraneous information. Keep your prompts brief by getting to the point quickly and moving callers into navigation/hold/service immediately.
3. Your IVR Script Prompts Are Too Wordy
You probably noticed the absence of the word “please” in the scripts above. That’s intentional. The wordier your script is, the more cumbersome it is for your customer to engage. Don’t overestimate your caller’s attention span. Remember, proper voice direction and tone can help you keep your IVR scripts short without making the customer feel hurried or snapped at. If you must say “please”, use it sparingly, such as in the main prompt: “Please hold for the next available representative.”
Other phrases, words or options to eliminate:
Press 1 for …: Always put the action at the end of the statement so callers hear the option before the action. Callers are first listening for the option that matches their need, not the digit to press or command to say.
WWW-dot, backslash, colon, etc.: 90% of the time the caller is looking at your company website while they are calling you, because they still have not found the information they want. If you feel you must inform the caller of a website option, keep it as simple as possible so your customer can easily write it down or remember it later. Domain and extension, nothing more.
Long, complicated words: Always remember that this is a script someone has to read out loud for someone else to hear it. Keep words brief and accessible.
Abbreviations: While you want to avoid complex words, you don’t want to revert to abbreviations or text speak. Say “street” not “St.” and never use text message language.
Dial vs. press: It’s highly unlikely that anyone calling you has a dial phone (and rotary phones don’t typically work with IVR systems anyway). Use “press” instead.
Unnecessary options: Don’t have multiple options that lead to the same caller destination. Best practice is to have 5 or fewer options.
Compliance messages: Your IVR is not a legal provider. If not essential, avoid legalese and avoid legal compliance statements.
Lengthy greetings: Keep your call center greeting script brief and to the point. Do your callers need to know that your IVR options may have changed?
Adjusting your IVR script is an effective way to optimize your system. Making these improvements to your IVR scripts can make a huge difference in creating satisfied and repeat customers.