undercover customer experienceThe saying, “You can’t understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” delivers sage advice when it comes to providing great customer experiences. You need to see, hear, and feel what your customers experience when interacting with your company to understand their perspective. A great place to start is your contact center’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform.

Pick up the phone and mystery shop your own IVR. Call into your customer contact center with a question or issue. Get into your IVR and try out the menus. Evaluate the customer experience by putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Can I easily reach a live agent when needed?
  • Do I have the options to quickly self-serve?
  • Does the agent or IVR have my history readily available?
  • Was the experience consistent across channels?
  • Did I receive a personalized experience?

By experiencing your IVR firsthand you can understand where it can be improved to deliver an optimal customer experience.

Companies acknowledge that they need to modernize their contact centers and provide an increased focus on their IVR system. In a 2014 Frost & Sullivan report on enterprise priorities for multi-channel and omnichannel strategies, they surveyed 305 respondents in the US and 408 in Europe and found that IVR will still be an important channel, with speech recognition IVR interactions expected to grow to 59% by 2016 in US – a 23% growth rate over two years. In Europe, the percentage of IVR interactions are expected to grow from 40% to 53% by 2016. A lot of this growth will be fueled by harnessing and leveraging the benefits of IVR.

Since your IVR acts as the front door to your business, it sets the tone for the customer experience you deliver. Unfortunately, companies that take a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach with their IVR end up hurting the business by frustrating the customer. As evidence of this fact, a recent benchmarking survey from Dimension Data revealed that a staggering 33.8% of contact center IVRs are never reviewed. Even worse, 54% of IVRs still don’t pass customer information to agents.

Recently, I co-hosted a global webinar featuring Nancy Jamison, principal analyst for digital transformation at Frost & Sullivan, where we discussed how to mystery shop the IVR and identified several proven ways to improve and modernize it. During the webcast we surveyed the audience about how frequently they update the IVR, how they’d rate their own IVR customer experience, and what barriers they have internally to continually improving their IVR.

Across the globe the majority of respondents stated that they update their IVR quarterly, annually or not at all. In North America, 28% of companies said they make updates annually, while in Europe 27% and in APAC 32% update annually.

When asked how they would describe the experience offered by their IVR, most had impressions that they were offering a “good experience, but nothing special.” More than 70% of respondents in Europe and APAC and 46% in North America agreed with this assessment. The rest of the respondents labeled the experience they offer as “frustrating.”

It’s clear that there is a lot of room for more focus on the IVR to improve the customer experience. So we asked what the biggest challenge is in achieving a better customer experience in the IVR. Overwhelmingly, across the globe, the biggest challenge seemed to be in gaining internal buy-in or proving the return on investment. In North America 42.5% said they faced a business case challenge in proving the ROI of making IVR improvements, while 39% in Europe and 55% in APAC agreed.

Everyone knows and understands basic IVR functionality. However, your IVR can rise up and be an exceptional channel for customer experiences by delivering personalized self-service options, carrying context from other channels to deliver an omnichannel experience, and enriching mobile customer care.

For more details on best practices for auditing your own IVR and crafting a better IVR experience, as well as several case studies that prove the ROI of these improvements, view this webinar on demand, Mystery Shop Your IVR: Uncover Ways to Enhance Your Callers’ Experiences.