Chris O’Brien at Cyara explains why you should show customers you’re really listening.
Nobody wants to be the one who’s blindsided when a relationship doesn’t work out. “I thought it was going so well!” you say. “We talk all the time. You never complain. You say yes to everything, so I thought it was smooth sailing!”
Not so, says your soon-to-be-ex partner. “You don’t listen to me. You never ask what I want to do or what I like. I’m not happy.”
This dynamic is always painful between two people, but it’s not exclusive to romantic relationships. It’s happening between contact centres and customers every day.
Frustrated callers give up on getting the service they need because they can’t bear to repeat themselves to another bot or navigate one more menu. And contact centre managers are still flummoxed.
“But everything is testing so well! The system is working more smoothly than ever.”
Unfortunately, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with routine testing and monitoring. An IVR that functions perfectly can still result in a terrible experience if you’re not thinking like a customer.
If you’ve designed call flows without truly paying attention to what your customers — real humans with emotions — are actually experiencing when they try to get their questions and problems addressed, you’re not fully testing your CX. You’re not testing with your heart.
Your CX Isn’t as Good as You Think
It’s no secret that many people hate IVR systems. In fact, a survey by Vonage showed that most customers still don’t enjoy interacting with them. They gave all sorts of reasons, but the biggest standouts were:
- People don’t want to hear a lot of options that don’t pertain to them.
- Even worse, the IVR system may not list an option that actually fits their reason for calling.
- Menus are too long and cumbersome to navigate.
- The call experience takes up too much time.
- Customers can’t connect with a human when they want to.
In another survey, this one by 7.ai, customers put it even more bluntly: 45% said that IVR systems usually can’t figure out what they’re trying to do. That’s not a recipe for success in any relationship.
Most of us have been on the customer side of a bad IVR call. How do you feel when you have to repeat your credit card number to an agent after you’ve already dialed it in two times? Or when you helplessly try different menu options, none of which lead you where you want to go?
If that’s how you feel, then you can be sure your customers have that experience sometimes. And that’s why testing is critical.
Getting to the “Heart” of CX Testing
Here’s the problem, though. A lot of functional and regression testing that’s performed in call centres isn’t designed to test for these kinds of nuances.
And that’s understandable — automated testing plays an important role in shortening testing time and reducing the testing burden on employees, but it can’t take the place of critically examining your customer journeys.
When it comes to testing for the all-too-human, emotional elements in your CX, you need a human touch.
The automated tests some companies implement may only reveal the top level of functionality: the system isn’t dropping calls, the correct messages are playing, calls are routed to the appropriate places based on customer input, etc. But that tells you very little about the experience your human callers are having with the process.
How do you test to see if your callers feel like they can’t find the right menu option for their issue? How do you know if the terms you’re using on the menus are too technical or confusing? A top-level set of testing criteria won’t tell you any of this.
Instead, you need a way to measure customer satisfaction and see if they’re getting the information they need.
A Customer-Centred Approach
To truly test with your heart, you have to put the customer at the heart of your testing. In other words, your primary goal should be to see the experience through their eyes.
What do they want when they call? What are their expectations for a smooth journey? If you’re ever unsure about this, start by conducting some user testing or usability studies to better understand what your customers are looking for.
Even without user testing, though, it’s relatively easy to understand what most customers expect. Consulting firm McKinsey and Company boils customer satisfaction with IVR systems down to three primary ingredients: fast call resolution, personalization and a consistent experience across channels. What would it look like to test with your heart in these three key areas?
Fast Call Resolution
According to McKinsey’s research, this is the number one thing most customers are looking for. The key question here isn’t just whether your menu system gets the customer from point A to point B, but does it do so efficiently?
How clearly and quickly does it assess their issue and guide them through to the part of the system — or the agent — that can resolve it?
To do this effectively, you need a wide range of test scripts that test your system’s capacity for addressing the full breadth of customer issues and potential outcomes. Ultimately, you want to be sure your system can provide the quickest, simplest solution possible for every caller.
It’s more than just a question of how quickly you can close out the call, though. Your testing should also ask: Does the solution fully address the needs of each specific caller? Are the menus and options tailored to their unique situation?
You need to use a broad range of test data to achieve this. The data should represent the diversity of your customers and their needs, so you can truly test how well the system adapts and responds to them. Only when you know where the roadblocks are can you implement solutions that will remove them.
Consistent Omnichannel Experience
As the world becomes increasingly digital and IVR technology improves, customers are increasingly connecting with companies across different channels.
They might start their interaction in an online chatbot but end up on the phone with an agent. If they have to repeat their information and explain their issue at each stage, they’re not going to be happy.
Your testing should be set up to evaluate the entire chain of the customer journey. Come at it from different entry points and test every link in the chain. Find the problem areas before they become actual problems for your callers.
Change Your CX Testing Mindset
These are just a few of the best practices for IVR testing, and they’re integral to a customer-centred approach.
Ultimately, though, testing with your heart starts with a company mindset. It’s a commitment that you’re not going to rely solely on sterile, basic testing to evaluate your IVR system. Instead, you’ll think critically and put the customer experience at the heart of your testing process.