Do You Need IVR For Small Business?

Interactive voice response (IVR) – is telephone system component that enables ability to listen to the message and then choose various options from menu. This system says you – “Hello, you reached BLABLA company. If you would like to speak with our sales press 1 and if you are experiencing technical problems press 2.”.

What is your first response, when you hear this? Is it positive or negative?

This kind of call routing mechanics are must, when you have huge team of professionals answering calls, but nowadays more and more small companies uses this feature, because cloud computing enabled this function to be low cost and available for everyone.

On the other hand, if you want to provide really good customer service, our suggestion would be to start using such system, when you cannot live without it. A lot of people starts to use it, because that delivers big company experience to calling customer, but forgets what the small companies are loved for – for personal customer service and honest solutions. Don’t forget that.



How much do you know?

Once you have decided to improve your customers service provided on phone first thing to find out is your phone calls statistics. A lot of old legacy telephony systems provides the information about calls, but usually there is no database engine, where everything is properly logged and it is difficult to get and analyze all the data. From my personal experience, I recommend customers these following steps to get all information on your desk and then go further with call center improvements.

1. What information do you need?

The basic list of measures you need follows like this – date, source, destination, call status (answered, unanswered, busy), wait time. Well, it is easy to get that, but this blog is related to real-life experience, so you should double check issues described below.

It is very important for you to decide, what calls will be included in your statistics. For example, old Nortel phone systems (Meridian family) doesn’t provide information about local calls (local calls are calls in your company) and that means,  if your call center have to deal with local people, you cannot see the actual numbers about those calls.

Second technological issue is wait time. If you will be able to get only a list of calls, where you won’t be able to see how much people had to wait before the call was answered or unanswered – it is also a trouble. It is very important to understand, how much your customer is willing to wait before your call is answered and sometimes, when you know exact wait time duration, you can ignore those customers, which changed their mind and waited only 5 seconds. Maybe they found the information on your website or maybe your welcome message is too long and they were annoyed at that moment already?

This one is a little bit related to the first one, but there is additional important question – should I see the statistics of call center or people who are working directly with customers, or should I get the data about all company calls? I recommend you to conduct analysis of all calls, because sometimes you can identify that people from other departments are doing customer service tasks you haven’t seen that before. Usually, you will find a lot of people calling to finance department to ask about their payment and you should take a proper decision, how to route those calls to customer support department.

2. What you can do with statistics? Share.

Once you are done with statistics the most important step is to share it with your employees or even better provide these statistics on daily basis and start local competition. It is simple to put the wallboard monitor or post the statistics to intranet page, but usually it does the job. When people know the real situation and trust the numbers, they will try to improve them.

3. Example, what you could expect.

It is one example from our practice. The numbers before all information where shared to employees looked like this:

And these are the numbers after sharing them to employees and the in company competition started:

This the basic, but actually this is the point where you should start. We will come back shortly with other techniques you could use for customer service improvements.


Where do I start?

Some people come to us and say – “I have been promoted or started new job as customer service manager. How do I start to improving?”, but more often we hear something like this – “I have been doing this job for 5 years and my boss is happy, how I am managing this. Why should I change something?”.

These two questions are great answers, because they illustrate that everything starts in your own mindset. Just leave the office and your job away and you will quickly remember your interactions with various call centers or front desk people.  Do they actually helped or the experience was negative? How do you felt about their questions? Wasn’t they standard? Do you felt like calling to India, where someone actually don’t mind your problem at all? What`s your first impression, when you hear that polite voice asking you to wait, while next available agent will take your call? How do you feel, when someone doesn’t even pickup a phone?

Finally, ask your self, do you really enjoy that kind of customer service? And I am more or less sure, that you have some excellent examples in your mind, when someone helped you without any silly questions or even made you happy, by giving something for free or changing the item with no extra costs.

Now get back in to your office, in to your customer service department or in to your own business. Just try to think of Apple, Zappos, Amazon or Starbucks. How do they succeed?

Don’t you think that you can add value to your business just by better customer service?