Your interactive voice response (IVR) system is only an asset to your company if it’s working properly. That means your customers can call in and be directed to the proper channel or complete their intended task quickly and easily. However, time and again, we see clients with IVR systems that are actually hindering their brand and overall operational performance — the exact opposite of what IVR should do.
One of the biggest indicators that your system isn’t up to snuff is the number of incomplete calls your analytics report show in a week. Hang-ups are bad in every part of the organization, but particularly in sales. Lost calls translates into lost money. We’ve compiled four of the biggest reasons we see our clients’ customers hanging up. See if any of them resonate with your company.
1. Your User Interface is Confusing or Inefficient
The very first thing your customer encounters is your menu. That’s where they take the first step to accomplish their purpose for calling. Here are some issues that typically frustrate your customers when they try to navigate the IVR menu:
- The most common tasks are not prioritized. Relegating the most used prompts to the end of the initial greeting can really make a customer angry and frustrated. You’ll be lucky if the only thing they do is break containment by zeroing out. If they hang up? Instant brand damage.
- The tasks are confusing. If the task is bill pay, don’t call it something obscure like “settle your bill” or “zero your balance”. Your menu is not the place for cutesy wording or unclear language. Be brief. Be clear. Make it easy for your customers to follow the prompts.
- You don’t offer an operator option. The fact is, some customers will never follow your menus and others will become impatient even with the best prompts. If they have no way to talk to a real person or at least leave a message, you’ll lose that customer to a hang-up, or maybe permanently.
2. Your Grammar and Vocabulary Are Off
Ever found yourself yelling at an IVR system in an attempt to engage the prompts? How frustrated were you in that moment? How positively did you think of the brand? Probably not very. A recent client engaged our services for their community resource call center. As part of our tuning service, we spent some time transcribing utterances of callers. We were able to boil down the hang-ups and containment breaks to a few issues.
- The system doesn’t account for the regional accent/dialect.
- The system doesn’t account for the demographic. For example, no Spanish option in a predominantly Hispanic community.
- The system only recognizes one pronunciation of its most-used words.
3. Your IVR is Annoying
We recently published a white paper that included the importance of voice talent in a well-functioning IVR system. This one may seem silly, but hear us out. When your customers call in, they want to at least feel like the computer they are engaging with is somewhat human. Deep down, they know it’s a computer, but the semblance of care put into your IVR can make a huge difference. Here are some tips for your voice talent:
- Avoid strong accents
- Select talent that can enunciate clearly and speak at an even pace
- Select a voice that is not too shrill, deep or any other pitch that might grate on the listener
- Have your talent try variety of intonation
- Be sensitive to pronunciation and cultural affectations of your dominant demographic
4. Your IVR Casts Your Caller into Hold Hell
Want to know the worst thing you can do to a caller who has worked their way through your IVR system? Make them wait. Your IVR can replace a lot of menial tasks. It can help answer questions. It can save your budget by reducing your human staff. Notice that we said “reduce” — not eliminate.
At the end of any navigation, it is critical that when your customer is ready to speak with a human, they actually have one waiting on the other end of the line. If your call volume is so high that hold times are impossible to avoid, we recommend a call-back service. That way your customer knows they are in a queue for service, but they aren’t tied to their phone. And it goes without saying that your call-back service should be prompt.
The problems we encounter with our clients are fairly common when it comes to why customers hang up. The anger those customers feel is also common and it’s something that any company, regardless of industry, absolutely must avoid if they wish to retain a positive brand image and provide exceptional customer service. As we said in the opening of this blog, your IVR system is only beneficial if it does its job properly. If you’ve experienced a lot of hang-ups with your IVR system, one or all of these four issues might be the root cause.
For more ideas on how to keep your customers from hanging up, download our white paper titled, 5 Key Ways to Improve Your IVR Performance.