What Are Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Menus?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus are an efficient way to route calls, answer FAQs, and address basic customer service-related issues. IVR menus and systems act as a 24/7 automated operators that help businesses save on hiring receptionists. Well-designed IVR menu greetings can help alleviate contact center traffic and distribute calls to the right reps.

Today, IVR tech is easily affordable and accessible for businesses, no matter their size.

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Switching to VoIP

What Is IVR?

At its most basic, IVRs are an automated phone system feature designed to interact with callers and gather their information through a menu. Then, it performs the correct action based on how the caller interacted with the IVR menu. 

The choices the caller makes decides the actions of the IVR. It can provide information for basic questions or route the caller to one of your live agents who can handle more complex issues.

If you’ve ever called a business number and were greeted by an automated message that prompted you to interact with a pre-recorded menu, that was an interactive voice response system.

IVR menus use speech recognition and touch-tone inputs to handle customer requests, answer their questions, and point them in the right direction.

IVR Menus: Features & Best Practices

Most VoIP solutions for businesses include IVR software, which enables businesses to use the features at a minimal cost. Here are the most used features of IVR menus and best practices to follow implementing them.

Want a Live Person? Press Zero (Or Don’t)

Designing a phone system that utilizes IVR menus is a challenge. One of the basic tenets of IVR is automation, but customers don’t always follow suit. One of the biggest goals of IVR menus is to help customers answer their questions and complete routine tasks without the need to speak with a live agent. However, when a customer “zeroes out,” it defeats the purpose.

For call and contact centers, it’s crucial to track how many callers can complete their self-service tasks within the IVR menu without zeroing out or requesting a live rep. You also need to consider the customers who quit in the IVR menu without getting any relevant service.

About Top Menu Options

IVR design specialists are part of an ongoing debate concerning the number of options that IVR menus offer and the depth of its menu structure, like how many menus someone has to navigate through to complete a task.

The conventional wisdom regarding IVR top menu options is that, using the branching tree structure, the IVR menu should contain a maximum of five options in the top menu with a maximum of three submenus. Here’s what that looks like: your callers should get up to five options initially, and when they select one, they can go through as many as three submenus.

However, this maximum can change depending on the company’s business model. Most IVR menus offer two to five top menu options.

Related: Easily Setting Up for Conference Calls

IVR Greetings Length

One thing that’s included in every IVR system is an introductory message that identifies the company the caller is trying to reach. While these messages make for an opportunity to promote your business, they can also frustrate your callers, sometimes prompting them to hang up before listening to their options. We generally recommend keeping your IVR greeting less than twenty seconds. Most of the time, short and to the point is the best option.

Dialpad Responses

While IVR has “voice response” in its name, many IVR menu systems rely on customers using the dial pad. And many customers prefer it this way. Even though the majority of IVR menus use speech recognition to capture a caller’s answers and requests, it’s often easier for them to use the dial pad to input their information.

Speech recognition is known to be a bug-prone technology, and many customers favor using a dial pad to avoid the frustrations of being misheard and misunderstood by speech recognition software.

Creating the Perfect IVR Menu Script

Most businesses and contact centers use comprehensive phone menus as part of their everyday operations. Having a system that’s easy to navigate and regulates your call flow improves your brand as an information source and strengthens customer experience. However, using an IVR menu application with your auto attendant can help get your customers through the phone menu even faster. It’s a small detail (and an often overlooked one), but it can have a significant impact.

When encountering an IVR menu, there are two variants that most customers will hear—either “Press 1 for sales” or “For sales, press 1.” While the difference might seem negligible, the latter offers your customers a better call experience. Simply reordering your script can let callers recognize their target department more easily and then turn their attention to the necessary input command.

Humans have a recollection bias that lets us recall the latest information we heard with more accuracy and clarity compared to the information presented first. So, optimal scripting is crucial to help get your customers to the right destination without frustration. Your IVR menu is the first point of contact you have with a customer, and implementing a well-developed and designed menu system will leave them with a lasting impression of your business.

Stay Competitive With Better VoIP Systems

It’s a necessity in modern business to use VoIP phone systems and advanced IVR menus. Companies that lack this service can quickly fall behind their competition. 

Customers turn to you for help with their problems and deserve your attention without experiencing frustration. Live call agents aren’t needed in every case if your IVR menu is comprehensive and can address common issues in a way that makes your customers feel valued.

However, while automation and IVR menus can enhance customer experience and speed up your workflow, it’s not a replacement for human interaction. IVR menus can cut costs and reduce wait times, but you never want to lose a call (or customer) because someone that prefers talking to a live CSR didn’t have access to one.

Need help setting up the best VoIP phone system for your business? Contact the specialists at Teams Device Center today!

Related: Fixed vs. Non-Fixed VoIP

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