customerIncreasing self-service IVR solution effectiveness, while enabling callers to exit to an agent, can save time and frustration for customers and providers. Recently, Genesys started a project with one of our longtime customers to drive a significant increase in IVR participation, while continuing to make it easy for callers to exit to an agent. That way, callers would not be forced to use the self-service automation.  I could write multiple blog posts on this project, but I want to focus on one particular solution we worked through with the customer.

Our customer is a service provider that would change their level of service based on their customers hitting certain consumption levels (high consumption results in lowering the service level). Of course, frustrated customers would frequently call in because they experienced a change in service, but didn’t know why the change occurred.

Like with most typical customer service issues, the first action for the call center rep would be to look up the customers’ accounts, and identify the reason for the issue. With the root cause in hand, the agent would explain the situation to the less than happy customer.  It’s important to note that the agent is only the conveyor of information maintained in the CRM system.  This is important because with data and rules existing in a system, we have the basis for an automation opportunity.

Once we knew there were data and rules, we could start to figure out how to automate. One member of our team suggested we enhance the main menu and present an option such as: “If you’re calling because your service degraded, press 5.” Another team member suggested creating a more open ended question following a broader main menu, such as “What type of service issue are you having?” At that point, a few people chuckled, then blurted out the various inappropriate words customers might use while yelling into the phone “my $%^$%%$ service is not working!” I was amazed at the highly inappropriate words the team found to describe this situation!

Here was the challenge we began with: could we come up with a good question to ask callers, and a good set of grammars (answers) to receive from the caller to identify this issue?  Well I knew one thing, we could easily spend a lot of time working on creating the question, creating initial grammars (answers), then tuning the you know what out of it!  And, maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t capture the response most of the callers would provide to describe the issue.

Of course, the fundamental problem with this whole approach was that we were relying on the caller telling us their problem, when the caller may (or may not) know how to verbalize the problem.

After realizing this, it was up to our team to rethink: was there another way?  Well, our customer’s backend systems knew which of their customers were experiencing this service degradation–could this information help us?

That’s when we thought: maybe this is an opportunity where we don’t ask the caller their problem.  In the vast data housed within the CRM system, we know which customers are having this issue – so why ask when we could be smart, and use the customer relationship data to create a great customer experience? Our systems are smart enough to identify the caller’s current service levels, and adapt their experience in IVR solutions based on the service level they are experiencing.  For callers experiencing this service level change, we can pro-actively ask them if they are calling about the service level change (a simple yes/no question) then proceed to explain the situation and provide options for re-establishing full service. All of this can be done through an automated system.  With a little integration between the Genesys cloud-based IVR and the customer’s CRM system–and some good thinking on the VUI design for this solution–guess what, these callers were now understanding, and solving their issue, without cursing into the IVR–or cursing to the agents.

We found that with an emotionally charged situation (and yes, this was an emotional issue for many callers), with GOOD automation, an IVR solution can create a calming effect on the caller, compared with an agent, to whom many callers feel the need to vent (I say this nicely) about their issue.

The net of this is: it’s “easy” to come up with IVR menu options, or create a rich speech recognition based question–but callers are an impatient bunch, and are not experts at using your products or describing their technical issues. If you can identify why they are calling, you can provide a few thoughtful options, and not a litany of options that aren’t applicable to their current situation. You’ll find that callers will participate in a well-designed IVR, and they won’t wear out their “0” key!