One thing all call center managers have in common is a desire for the perfect blend of people, technology, and tools. Yet, actualizing this goal can be a specious endeavor for those who have found themselves in a rut where bad habits abound. Business telephone systems and call automation practices are a must-have in today’s progressive marketplace. Let’s review some of the worst IVR habits that plague the modern call center. Afterwards, we’ll cover some tips on how to break them for good.
5 Worst Call Center IVR Habits
- Not Setting a Budget.
- Ignoring Performance Metrics.
- Paying for Applications and Features You Don’t Need.
- Forgetting About Your Live Employees.
- Infrequent Upgrades.
How to Break These Habits For Good
Not having a budget is a big no-no. Call center managers know that traditional speech IVRs can be life-savers when telephone systems are strained. Finding the right one — at the right cost — is a delicate balance indeed. There are literally hundreds of options to choose from when you decide to automate a myriad of phone lines. Of course, as with any other product or service you solicit with the hope of increasing productivity, the costs are not always in line with what you actually receive. An easy way to protect yourself in the beginning is to come up with a budget. Decide up-front exactly how much you are willing and able to pay for the services or equipment you plan to start using. Once a budget has been set, do not vary from it. Period! After all, what is the point of creating some financial boundaries if you aren’t going to respect them? Coming up with a financial plan is bound to be challenging for you if you are new to the call automation scene and are not, say, simply swapping out an older IVR. That’s alright. You may need to call around or solicit some quotes online to give you a realistic idea of what kind of fees you’ll be shelling out.
Performance metrics are important because they let you know what is going on with your voice response platform. Without metrics, your IVR could be doing more harm than good and you would never know. Today, most systems provide actual percentages on things like dropped calls, average wait times, opt-outs (where callers choose to speak to an employee instead of your IVR), and other really critical rates.
Non-essential applications and features are one of the most bizarre bad habits call center managers are likely to engage in. In the world of telemarketing and help desk automation, software providers are notorious for creating “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” solutions. Unfortunately, all these features come with a scary price tag…and chances are you’ll never use all of them. Instead, consider doing a trial with a hosted voice response vendor. This way, you just pay for the applications you’re most likely to use.
Forgetting you actually have live employees on your staff is a real problem if you manage to find a decent IVR. However, employee management is one of the key elements of a successful call center. Even the best voice response software can’t guarantee the activity in your center will carry on in auto-pilot mode. You can never ensure calls be answered correctly, swiftly, and ideally 100% of the time. In other words, you have to keep some employees on site. For those folks who are making calls, its a good idea to invest in some conventional software to manage their work flow. Good choices include: response-time goals, delay estimators, and time-sheets. When possible, choose online resources that offer an option to download reports offline so you can monitor them remotely.
Upgrades can be a major annoyance for telephone system owners, and static or in-house IVRs are worst violators. By now, hopefully you know that most progressive call centers are using some type of adaptive speech technology to support call flow. It’s important to realize there are two (and ONLY two) IVR options available to you: physical and virtual platforms. Use your best judgement about your ability and resolve to commit yourself to future upgrades here. Realistically, non-hosted options tend to need upgrades and basic maintenance after about one year.
Finally, you should never get into the habit of thinking that call center IVRs are 100% self-serving. You will still need to be educated on the platform, train your employees how to interact with the new system, and develop ways to track your performance.