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Successful IVR System and Change in Call Flow

It may not be easy to define a successful IVR ( Interactive voice response) System. In single line, one IVR system could be termed successful when it has lowest abandon rate by both genuine new and old callers. When an IVR system is designed to perform some specific task for a caller, if the caller completes those tasks using the IVR easily at the shortest time possible, then the IVR will have very less abandonment rate and the IVR could be termed successful IVR.

For example, if one IVR system retrieves outstanding bill for telephone number, the caller should be able to hear his/her outstanding bill at the shortest possible time, without failure with having to choose minimum options, either using DTMF/Key-press or voice command. If the caller disconnects the call before he hears his outstanding bill amount, then it would be ‘abandon of IVR call’. But if the caller listens to his outstanding bill amount, and then disconnects the call, it is ‘successful IVR call’.

So, apart from technical challenge (developing the IVR software, integrating with PBX/ IP-PBX etc.), the major consideration for IVR or any voice application for matter, remains making the most user-friendly IVR call flow or Voice User Interface (VUI) design. So, success of IVR will depend on majorly on the VUI design! The callers who are the users of IVR system, will care little about the technology involved for developing the IVR system and will care about only the information they want. If they do not find it easy to get the information they want, IVR system is useless for them. ( One may check #ivr #ivrs trending in twitter.com to find how people hate about IVRS, everywhere in the world!)

There are two types of caller, new caller and old or regular callers to any IVR system. One of the most common complaint by regular caller is the change of menu options! In any customer care IVR system, normally, regular caller outnumber new callers, if call flow is changed, suddenly, there is no longer any old or regular caller for the IVR as everybody becomes new caller. Everybody will have to listen to all menu options as long as the prompts play! This increases not only abandon calls, but also increase time spent on the IVR system by callers! Normally, IVR system should aim to complete its ‘task’ at the shortest time, to server more caller with fixed number of lines.

Recently, I have experienced increase in demand from IVR users who wanted to have options to change the call flow using some visual tools, I always wanted to discourage them! Though visual tool is an excellent way for developing IVR application, it should not be used to keep changing the call flow quickly or just for the sake of changing it and just because one has a easy visual tool to change it! Else the very purpose of installing IVR system would be defeated and one will own a failed IVR system with high call abandon rate!

Designing IVR call flow is very important for success of an IVR deployment, and sticking to the same call flow is also equally important. Call flow should be changed only when it is a must, other wise IVR call flow should not be changed. One is sure to see spike in abandoned calls when call flow is changed.

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