19 Ways to Create a Great IVR Experience


Our readers share their thoughts on how to ensure your IVR pleases your customers – rather than driving them away.

1. Don’t use obscure language in your prompts

Don’t use obscure language which the caller will not understand.

With thanks to Darren

2. Make sure your IVR terminology is consistent with other channels

Make sure the terminology you use in the IVR prompts is consistent with other channels, such as web, mobile app, etc.

Otherwise, multichannel customers may become confused in the IVR. This could negatively impact call containment and IVR success.

With thanks to Darren

3. Make your most popular option the first

Analyse which menu option is the most popular and make this option one.

For example, the IVR says “press one for Sales, two for Customer Service and three for Technical Support”.

If Technical Support is the most popular option, change the message to say “For Technical Support press one”.

4. Look for outliers

When it comes to DTMF analysis, it is all too easy to assume that working out a mean average will help you to better understand your customers’ experience in your IVR.

But sometimes the average has no meaning.

For example, the majority of customers may press one DTMF key, followed by 10 DTMF keys to enter their pin. The mean average would suggest that there are approximately 4/5/6 DTMF keys being pressed per interaction. Yet this holds no truth.

It is a much more effective exercise to plot each interaction separately and look for outliers in your data, e.g. the customer who has pressed 128 DTMF keys, and address the issues that have led to that anomaly occurring.

With thanks to Lode Vande Sande

5. An ‘other’ option encourages customers to stay in the IVR

We have an option that states ‘other’, as opposed to directly asking the customer if they would like to speak to an agent.

This helps us to keep our customers in the IVR.

With thanks to James

6. Listen to callers moving through the IVR

headset-listen-185Most of us listen to calls in the contact centre, but it tends only to be when the call is connected to the agent.

Instead listen to calls progressing through the IVR. This is called “Think Side” recording, through which you can hear the whole in-queue experience.

It can be a real eye opener and will also help you to see where things are going wrong in the IVR.

With thanks to Jonty

7. Don’t use your IVR menu as a reporting tool to track customer choices

One of the most common pitfalls to avoid is using your IVR menu as a reporting tool to track customer choices, rather than as a routing or self-service tool.

With thanks to John

8. Set your IVR to prompt for a PIN if an unrecognised number calls through

We have integrated our IVR with our CRM system.

One issue we quickly found was that many customers use withheld numbers, which blocks our IVR from recognising the customer.

To overcome this, we’ve set our IVR to prompt for a PIN if an unrecognised number calls through.

This allows us to deliver a personalised experience to a greater number of customers.

With thanks to Vijay

9. Regularly review your IVR

Avoid a ‘deploy and forget’ approach.

Regularly work on your IVR requirements, as these change through time.

An IVR that is fit for purpose in year one may no longer fit the customer in year three.

Regularly analyse, tune and re-analyse your call flows to improve call completion rates in your IVR.

With thanks to Darren and Neil

10. Make sure the voice on your IVR matches your brand

Make sure the voice on your IVR matches your brand and values.

With thanks to Ian

11. A numeric pin is less sensitive to accents

We chose a numeric pin as the customer key phrase, as pronouncing the numbers is seen as less variable with accents than a pass phrase.

With thanks to Alex

12. Review your IVR based on customer satisfaction surveys

We review our IVR set-up based on the feedback we gather via our satisfaction surveys.

With thanks to Dave

13. Ensure all of your FAQs are included in the IVR options

phonepad-185Find out what your agents are being asked on a regular basis.

Then load these as options in the front of the IVR, so they are heard quickly before the customer presses 9 for an agent.

With thanks to Dane

14. Call customers back after they use the IVR to ask for feedback

We have been calling customers back after they use the IVR to ask for feedback.

This helps us make changes as needed and ensure the IVR supports our customers’ needs not just ours.

With thanks to Kate

15. Ask 2 questions maximum

Ask 2 questions maximum – with 5 options maximum on each question.

With thanks to Dave

16. Integrate your IVR with your internal CRM platform

Integrate your IVR with your internal CRM platform in order to automate options and allow customers to self-serve.

This will also increase agent visibility on the incoming contact.

With thanks to Dominika

17. Condense your IVR options to speed up the process

Condense the number of options on your IVR so customers can get to an agent faster – and without needing to listen to too many messages.

With thanks to John

18. Make sure the options match current contact reasons

We review our IVR every month.

We may not make a change, but we make sure the options match current contact reasons.

With thanks to Kate

19. Give your customers the chance to repeat the menu options

Always give your customers the chance to repeat the menu options if they wish.

With thanks to Dave

Is your IVR great?

Let us know in the box below.

Published On: 8th Apr 2015 - Last modified: 22nd Mar 2017
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4 Comments
  1. Some great comments here. However while point 3. is good In theory, it is unlikely to be effective. That’s because ‘Customer Service’ is usually the most popular option. Listing it 1st will catch too many of the ‘other’ calls (Sales, technical etc.).

    It’s often best to put your hardest to define call groups first. That means you prevent these calls from wrongly entering CS (or another department) and being transferred out again.

    Suzanna Hyatt 8 Apr at 5:27 pm
  2. Love this article! There is no such thing as a bad IVR – there are just some badly designed IVRs. Anything done badly will be a bad customer experience.

    If we think of the IVR as part of the customer journey along with voice, retail and digital channels it can be an effective part of the overall customer experience.

    Dougie Cameron 9 Apr at 9:43 am
  3. Great reality,which still many Executives are working on.
    Fortune 500 are working for great Experience but still are not satisfied.
    Implementing this real time opportunity could help many customers to enjoy the level of service they actually want as per the living standard of that Country.
    Every year as per US Economy they have to go through a loss of 12bn $ because of poor customer experience,customer tend to seek for new suppliers.

    Advisor”s at the front line staffing should skilled with social values,ethics,motivated in life and needs to work as analysts who should really escalate the issue which are really impacting the Customers Mindset,which I believe a first step forward would a great IVR as mentioned in this blog.

    Great Stuff!!!!
    Keep going….Cheers

    Nitin Maulekhi 18 Apr at 2:32 pm
  4. Very interesting article, I found point 6 very intriguing, have never thought of recording the customer going through the IVR to gain feedback. Might have look in to this further as believe you will probably get better feedback doing this than using automated surveys.

    Neal Robertson 21 Apr at 4:46 pm
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