VUI ( Voice User Interface) is the call flow of IVR system. Usability of IVR is dependent on the VUI. So it is desirable that considerable amount of time be devoted in designing, testing and documenting VUI of IVR system before actually developing IVR system.
Here are few simple VUI design guidelines of tips I have thought of :
1. Identify specific purpose of IVR system
First step towards designing VUI should be the question, why would a caller call the IVR system and how quickly efficiently IVR should reply to his “why”. If the purpose of an IVR system is to record customer complaint, allow customer to lodge their complaint in the first menu itself. IVR should not try to act very smart or human by asking intelligent questions and get the caller answer before it actually is able to lodge the complaint. The other way is to allow the caller lodge the complaint, provide him complaint ticket and then ask few polite questions about details of the his complaint an which is completely optional. IVR system should stick to its specific purpose in its operation.
2. Maximum 3 Levels of menu
Stick to maximum 3 levels of menus before caller gets his desired information after calling a IVR system. A caller should not be “interviewed” or put through “set of question answer session” till he gets the desired information. In many IVR system, it is observed that, trying to be smart, caller is put through set of questions, many irrelevant options before actually providing the information required by the caller. So, golden rule should be, provide maximum 3 levels of menu, before a caller is answered or provided the final information.
3. Provide Shortcuts as per usage
IVR system should have in-built MIS (Management Information System) to enable finding out the most used menus and information. Depending on the usage, shortcut should be provided to access the widely used menus quickly. Many repeat caller will not like to go through the same menu and having to choose same options before his desired menu options. Even a first time caller may like to use the shortcut once the shortcut is explained.
4. Top Level Menu options
By top Level Menu options, I mean the menu options provided to caller as soon as his call is answered. This is the menu which is to be designed very carefully and success of IVR system may depend on this menu to a large extent. This menu should not be long list of options, but few main specific purposes of the IVR system. And this menu should be changed as per usage statistics. For example, if the 4th option here has less usage than 3rd option of the second level option of 1st top level option, than most probably, it is time to bring the second level option to top level menu. If the IVR system is a call center and human agent is available, then I strongly suggest that option should be given to caller in Top Level menu to speak to a human agent.
5. Voice prompts
Voice scripts should be simple English or the language the IVR is using. The language should be really simple and easy to understand, without any grammatical errors. It should be spoken as if you are speaking in daily conversation with regular pauses. A good menu design may look totally ridiculous if proper scripting and voice prompts are not used.
There are five VUI design tips I have been using in all my IVR works. VUI is a must for IVR usability.