Just a customer service gripe: Just how helpful do you think voice response units are when filled with HORRIBLE content? Sweet sappy voices pumped up loud telling me about services as if I just recovered from a head injury does not inspire me to do new things with you. Peppy canned music that doesn’t exist on the radio is not soothing. Silence is equally not soothing, but it’s marginally less annoying than those “please continue to hold” messages barging in every 20 seconds.
I think that lots of the built-in misery of voice response units come from surveys that were conducted in the 80s. Thus, people’s adoption of technology wasn’t all that far along. We needed all this reassurance. Marketers thought that people were interested in hearing really long, canned, syrup-sounding ads about other products while waiting an inordinate amount of time for service reps to come back from changing the oil in their cars or whatever they do for five minute pauses.
How to Help
- Update the Music– Whatever music is on your line, let me guarantee you that it SUCKS. Sit there and listen to your own music for five minutes. Relaxing? Bullshit.
- Make Opt Out Options Early– Give folks the chance really early to bag out of the robot treadmill early. Believe me, it’ll up your customer service calls a bit, but I’ll tell you this: If your voice response unit is TRULY helpful to customers, people will use the system.
- Keep things simple– If you’re not sure how, start calling other customer service numbers. You. Not some group. Do you know what happens when you hire someone to make you a voice response system? They make a SYSTEM, not something helpful. They try to make sure they cover everything. Streamline. Cut it down to nothing.
- REALLY test things. Go bareback– It’s conventional wisdom that voice response units help call centers save time and money. Are you sure that’s true for yours? Try going straight to agents for a full month. Yes, it will cost you money. Yes, it will be tricky, and you’ll have to add reps for the duration. Plan it out. Measure your customer service metrics before and after. What? You’re not measuring customer satisfaction with all your processes? Get real.
- Think of Your Parents and Grandparents– If they can’t use it, throw it out and start again. Oh, and you know why 30-somethings call your VRU? Because your website isn’t self-service enough. Want to save customer service money? Expose more of your customer options on the web. Make them easier to find. Make it easier to feel helped.
- Add chat– If there were live chat on more sites offering customer service, I’d call less. I’d rather just get through it.
I just got off the phone with annoying person two and 9(NINE!!!!) minutes of hold time for something as simple as rescheduling an internet cable install. Losers. But in case you think I’m talking out my butt about Voice Response Units and customer service, I was lead engineer on one for five years, and I worked in and around them for 16 years. I know of what I speak.
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