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Posted on April 11, 2013 by West Corporation 


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Better Than Coffee: A Top 10 List of Automated Application Best Practices

I am not aware of any formal scientific evidence of this, but I believe most people have a morning routine they follow after getting out of bed in the morning. A routine allows us to get from one point to another point with ease (in this case, from bed to work). Some folks may have one routine for workdays and a different routine for non-work days.  My routine, regardless of the day of the week, is coffee first — and lots of it. Coffee is what kick-starts my brain and body. Until I’ve had that first cup, nothing interesting happens or gets accomplished in my world. I look forward to mornings because that is the only time of the day I allow myself the luxury of coffee.  I love my morning routine.

So, this leads to the question, what does having a morning routine have in common with an automated customer service application? The answer is that your automated application should have a routine your customers can count on to follow and accomplish a task or multiple tasks with ease. Or, said another way, use industry best practices to ensure ease of use for customers.

Here is a top 10 list of routines (or best practices) that automated customer service applications should follow:

  • Begin the call with a welcome message and a brief description of what to expect.
  • Offer a maximum of five options at each prompt — If more than five options are available, then offer additional options under a “more options” selection.
  • Offer the most popular menu selection first, the second most popular second, and so on.
  • Offer a “repeat menu” option at each module.
  • Do not confirm unnecessarily. Frequent confirmation makes the call inefficient and aggravates the caller.
  • Re-prompt when a customer does not make a selection or makes an invalid selection.
  • Allow an agent transfer option after two errors (caller makes invalid or no selection) to minimize caller frustration.
  • In scenarios of specialized agent line groups, use the practice of the determining what the customer needs prior to transferring to an agent, “To make sure I route your call to the agent best suited to handle your call, please tell me what topic your call is related to.” This will prevent double transfers.
  • Use a silent agent option as deemed appropriate throughout the application.
  • Less is more — use the minimum number of words in the prompts.

And, finally, consider a “coffee” element in your automated application — something that keeps the customer alert, awake and paying attention. This can be as simple as using good voice talent that uses voice inflections to keep the caller engaged.



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