There’s a lot of talk about using big data to create truly personalised customer communications. But our experience shows that, in the IVR channel, even basic amounts of personalisation can lead to major improvements in call resolution rates and customer satisfaction.

A lot of the current buzz in customer communications is around big data – using everything you know about an individual to drive deeply personalised communications.

In theory, the IVR channel is no exception, and organisations that are already embarking on a complete, data-driven, omni-channel integration project should be careful not to leave the IVR out of the fold.

Small, data-driven personalisations can transform IVR results

But in reality, few organisations have the resources to access and integrate all of the data needed to create that kind of deeply-personalised IVR experience. And the truth is, it’s not really necessary. Most IVR today is so shockingly bad that even tiny amounts of data about the caller’s context, used in the right way, can transform the customer experience and resolve calls much faster.

There are many ways to use individual data points to tailor the IVR experience to individual callers’ needs. And while they may not be as impressive as a full-blown big data integration project, they can be a quick route to achieving some big benefits, including significant increases in:

  • Call containment within the IVR
  • First-call resolution rates
  • Customer perception of the brand
  • Call deflection to other channels

Some simple tailored IVR approaches

There are many ways to implement simple personalisation into the IVR call flow, but some of the most common ones we see are:

  • Recognising the customer has an overdue bill to pay and giving them that option first
  • Knowing the caller’s order has been delayed, and giving them the option upfront to report an overdue delivery
  • Seeing that the caller is calling from a place where there’s a known problem or outage, and playing them an appropriate message
  • Knowing the caller has called before, welcoming them back, and providing appropriate options given it’s not their first call

Getting IVR personalisation right

Far from requiring a massive enterprise data integration project, this sort of low-level IVR personalisation requires only a few, judiciously-chosen point integrations, and well-planned call flow options to incorporate the data.

The key to getting this right is twofold. First, you have to understand the top 4-5 reasons people call the IVR. This can be done by analysing reports from the IVR system, ‘call listening’ alongside contact centre agents, and interviewing agents to get their feedback on what callers find helpful or frustrating about the existing IVR experience.

Then you need to look for ways to connect the caller’s number – a unique piece of data that identifies them to the IVR system before the call starts – with other relevant data about that customer, to enable the IVR to make an informed guess at the reason for their call.

Once you can make that type of connection, you can create a set of tailored call flows and play the most appropriate one to the caller, depending on their likely reason for calling. For example, if the caller’s number correlates with an open order in your order management system, you could infer they are calling about that order, and have the IVR give them the option to report a problem with their order upfront.

This has to be done with a reasonably high degree of confidence that the resulting personalisation will be actually helpful to the caller, rather than making things more frustrating. But if you know that eight out of ten calls to the IVR are to pay a bill, or to report a missing order, then it can pay dividends – for the customer and for your business – to make that correlation with the appropriate database and give the caller the ‘right’ option upfront.

Small changes make a big difference

We’ve seen first-hand how a tailored approach can pay big dividends. At the largest telco in the Caribbean, for example, we implemented a personalised dialogue that let callers know about broadband outages affecting them, based on the location implied in their number.

This simple, tailored message resulted in an 18% reduction in calls reaching the contact centre during outages. What’s more, one-third of callers opted to receive updates via SMS, further reducing call volumes.

When you’re under pressure to reduce inbound call volumes and resolve enquiries on the first call – not to mention improve customer happiness and the public perception of your brand – small IVR changes can make a big a difference.

Find out more in our eBook

Keeping your IVR updated is just one of nine design and deployment principles we use for delivering great IVR experiences. To read about all nine, fill out the form below to download our eBook: Press 1 To Be Delighted: How to Design, Develop and Deploy a Truly Customer-Centric IVR.

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Topics: IVR Design