When it comes to keeping customers on the line, there are four key call center IVR (Interactive Voice Response) practices that make a real difference. These practices are vital because they address common reasons why customers hang up—and can help you prevent customer hangups in the future. We’ll break down these four practices, explaining what they are and why they’re effective, and we’ll give you the exact steps to start implementing them in your call center.

4 IVR Best Practices That Stop Customer Hang Ups

1. Make It Easy To Reach a Live Agent

What it is: With this strategy, you provide an option within your IVR menu that allows customers to bypass automated responses and speak with a human agent.

Why it prevents hang ups: Technology is great, but sometimes customers want to talk to a real person. According to a retail communication report by First Orion, more than half of U.S. consumers prefer phone calls for complicated issues, underscoring the importance of human support in customer service.

By offering a live agent option, you’re there for customers who want a more personal touch or don’t like dealing with automated menus. This can be particularly helpful for complex or sensitive situations. 

And again, some customers just don’t want to interact with an automated system, no matter how well it’s set up. Giving them an option to speak to a rep will go a long way in keeping them happy.

How to implement it: To set this up, include an option in your IVR menu, such as “Press 0 to speak to a customer service agent.” Make sure your system is programmed to quickly reroute these calls to an available customer service representative. You should also keep an eye on how many calls go to your agents. If most of your customers are bypassing the automated options, it could be a sign your IVR system is hard to navigate and needs to be reconfigured.

2. Offer Multilingual Support

What it is: Set up your IVR system to offer menu options in several languages. When customers call, they’ll hear the IVR prompts in their preferred language, making it easier for them to understand and respond. 

Why it prevents hang ups: Multilingual support is essential in today’s globalized business environment. A Harvard Business Review survey reveals that 56.2% of consumers value being able to get information in their own language more than product price.

It’s much easier to complete a purchase, resolve a delivery mistake, or get IT support in a language you understand fluently, so it’s not surprising that customers are more likely to stay on the line if they can interact in their native language. It dramatically reduces stress and misunderstandings and improves the overall experience. 

Providing IVR support in multiple languages meets this need and shows respect for cultural diversity, significantly reducing the likelihood of hang-ups due to language barriers.

How to implement it: First, identify the most common languages spoken by your customer base. Then, modify your IVR system to include these languages in the menu. This might require hiring voice actors fluent in these languages or using multilingual text-to-speech technology. Ensure that the language options are clearly stated at the beginning of the IVR script.

3. Add Accessibility Features 

What it is: Accessibility features make your IVR system easy to use for customers with disabilities. This means incorporating features such as text-to-speech technology for customers with visual impairments, providing SMS or chatbot options for people who are hard of hearing, or ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies. The flexible VoIP systems commonly used by call centers make it easy to integrate accessibility software into your IVR.

Why it prevents hang ups: The Americans With Disabilities Act emphasizes the importance of accessibility in customer service, and accessible IVR systems prevent hang-ups by ensuring that all customers, regardless of their abilities, can navigate the system. By accommodating diverse needs, you reduce the risk of customers feeling frustrated or neglected because they can’t interact with your IVR system effectively.

How to implement it: Start by evaluating the accessibility needs of your customer base. Implement text-to-speech features for the visually impaired, and add SMS or chatbot support for those who are hearing impaired. Ensure that your IVR system interfaces effectively with braille display devices for customers with severe visual impairments. Also, consider implementing adjustable speed controls for menu options to assist those with cognitive impairments. You can add these features with the help of specialized call center software providers that focus on accessibility.

4. Include a Callback Option

What it is: This best practice involves adding a feature in your IVR system where customers can choose to have an agent call them back instead of waiting on hold. For the customer, it means selecting an option to receive a call at a later time. In the call center, it’s a system to track and manage callback requests efficiently.

Why it prevents hang ups: We’re all leading busy lives, and few of us have the time (or patience) to wait around on hold indefinitely. Long wait times are a major reason for customer frustration and hang-ups. Adding a callback option to your IVR prevents hang-ups because it respects the customer’s time.

How to implement it: To set up a callback system, program your IVR to offer a callback option at certain points in the call, such as after a specific wait time. Ensure your system can capture the customer’s contact details and the reason for the call. Also, set up a process where these callback requests are queued for your agents to follow up promptly.

After Hang Ups, Here’s What to Look For

While call abandonment is a major sign that your IVR is not operating optimally, there are also other important call center KPIs to track.

Call Containment Rate

The call containment rate is a critical measure of how well your IVR system handles calls without human intervention. To calculate this, divide the number of calls completely managed by the IVR by the total number of incoming calls. 

A low rate can signal that your IVR system is confusing or doesn’t meet callers’ needs, leading them to seek assistance from an agent. This metric is particularly important for evaluating whether the IVR system is configured well and if its prompts are clear and effective in guiding callers through their inquiries.

Average Handling Time

Average Handling Time (AHT) measures the total duration of a call, including the time spent in the IVR, on hold, and with an agent. This metric assesses the efficiency of the IVR system in supporting the quick resolution of calls. A high AHT could mean there are problems within the IVR system, such as complex navigation or a lack of self-service options, resulting in extended call times. 

Opt-Out Rate

The opt-out rate tracks how often callers bypass the IVR to speak directly with an agent. This metric is crucial in understanding caller frustration with the IVR system. A high opt-out rate could indicate that callers find the IVR system confusing, unhelpful, or too time-consuming, prompting them to seek immediate human assistance. 

What to Expect When Working With an IVR

Setting up an IVR system in a call center is an ongoing task, not a one-time setup. It starts with creating menus that meet your customers’ frequent needs and making sure the system works well for everyone. 

But once your IVR is up and running, you should continue to keep checking on it. Look at how long calls take, how often people hang up, and how happy your customers are. These details tell you if your IVR is working smoothly or needs changes.

As your business and customer needs change, your IVR should, too. This means updating it with new features or options and ensuring it’s easy for customers to use. Getting customer feedback is vital because it helps you understand what’s working and what’s not. 

An effective IVR system helps handle calls better and improves your customers’ experience, so it’s important to regularly update and improve it to keep up with your business and customer needs.