Our friends at Software Advice, a VoIP market research and reviews website, recently conducted their own survey by calling the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems of 50 customer service-oriented Fortune 500 companies. They collected metrics on how those companies implement their IVR technology. Software Advice then interviewed specialists in operations research and call center bench-marking (the scientific comparison of call center performance metrics) to get their thoughts on best practices for IVR design. Here is one component of their findings:
Depending on a company's business model, the number of options callers are offered in the top menu will change. The average number of menu options for Software Advice's survey was 4.16. But if your company needs numerous options on the top menu, there are two key elements on which to focus.
Eliminate Submenus By Using Open-Ended Questions and ‘Next’ Options
Two of the companies Software Advice called simply prompted the caller for an open-ended response instead of offering a menu. Eric Tober, principal speech solutions scientist for Interactive Intelligence (a leading supplier of contact center solutions), explains that this sort of structure, known as “natural language understanding (NLU),” uses “statistical language models and call routing [to] greatly expand the number of distinct selections (150-plus) a caller can make, while enabling a more natural, open dialog.”
Such structures are ideal for companies that offer numerous services through their IVRs, he adds, since they streamline IVR systems by effecting “greater flattening of the menu structure for many callers.” In other words, callers don’t have to go nearly as deep into IVR submenus to complete a task. Continue reading article...