Over the last few days it struck me that so often in customer service we do things that on the surface seem to be logical, even helpful, but too often actually add frustration or confusion when it comes to the customer experience.
Last week I received an email from my ‘regular’ airline that first pleased me, and then frustrated me. I had previously noticed that one leg of a recent multi-leg journey had not been credited to my frequent flyer account (it was with a partner airline).
As a result, I went online and reported it. The part of the email that pleased me read as follows: “We are pleased to inform you that your request to credit missing miles has been processed and will be credited to your account within a week.”
The part of the email that frustrated went like this: “Miles are credited to your account automatically each time you provide your card number when reserving tickets with us or any other program partner.” Why was I frustrated? This was was obviously not the case as my booking clearly showed my card number and the other two legs had been credited satisfactorily.
This sort of issue doesn’t only occur in automated email responses like this one, either. One of my other common frustrations is queuing on the phone only to hear a message that says something like, “Did you know that you can get answers to many questions from our website?” “Yes, I do.” And I suspect most other people would know that, too, but we are now on the telephone and waiting for an answer! I wonder if these companies have actually tested how successful this message is at reducing calls to the call center, and also how frustrating it is to callers?
In the past I spent time working on IVR projects for a mobile carrier in the UK. Working with these world class experts it soon became apparent to me that Voice User Interface (VUI) design was not an art but a science. I learned a lot of valuable lessons worth sharing:
- Everyone thinks that they can write the best IVR script (or email text), but it’s not true.
- Script design ‘by committee’ doesn’t work, it just wastes more people’s time.
- The success rate of an IVR script (or automated email, text message, website) can and should be robustly tested.
- What isn’t said is as important as what is, telling a customer too much information just upsets or confuses them.
- Slight changes to wording can make a big difference in the way that users behave.
The way that we relate to what we read or hear can be designed and scientifically tested to be more effective, leading to an increase in completion rates, while reducing customer frustration and effort.
You can also get a view of the current IVR competitive landscape from Gartner – download the report here.
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any stories or comments you have on this subject?