West Corporation

Posted on August 12, 2013 by West Corporation 



Designing IVR Applications From the Inside Out

I have been designing automated phone systems, otherwise known as interactive voice response (IVR) systems, for many years. Anyone can take stab at writing an IVR script — just like anyone can draw a pretty picture — and everybody is a critic. Designing IVR scripts requires a thick skin.

So, who do I think is the most important person in IVR design? The caller is. And to listen, you need to talk to customers. It may seem obvious, but it’s not as common as it should be.

We’ve all used a really bad IVR or web site. What makes them offensive is their lack of intuitive interaction. Simply put, you just don’t know what to do. That’s what can happen when you design for flashy technology and not for your customers. This is what I like to call “inside-out design.” It is like hiding the seaweed that binds a sushi roll with the rice on the outside.

So, you have some new shiny database and big switch that can react to three pieces of customer information. Therefore, three options on an IVR menu, right? Ideal. Expectations are high for good performance. But the callers have other ideas and ask for a live person.

At West, we like to talk to customers in several ways:

  • Moderate Focus Groups
    Focus groups are a marketing technique used to introduce new products or ideas, and to measure emotional reactions to brands and demonstrations. Avoid overreacting to comments. Just because customers dislike speech recognition, doesn’t mean you must avoid it. Make it better. Use your design skills to offer solutions.
  • Talk With Call Center Agents
    Use agent roundtables. Agents have an ear to thousands of callers. They know how callers talk and what they ask for. Talk to agents to hear their experiences. Then, use your design skills to offer solutions.
  • Conduct Usability Testing
    We have customers test drive our IVR design. They tell us what they like and don’t like. But don’t overreact if what you see during the tests is negative. Again, use your design skills to offer solutions.

In reality, the caller already knows why they are calling you. It’s you who doesn’t know. You need to get OUT in front and talk to customers to get the INSIDE scoop … the actual reasons they call. Then use your design skills to offer solutions.

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