One of the most popular features of a cloud PBX system is an IVR. An IVR, short for “Interactive Voice Response” system, can also be known as an auto-attendant or automated receptionist voice menu.
This system allows a caller to use their voice or dual-tone multiple frequencies (DTMF tones) input via their phone’s keypad to interact with a cloud PBX system.

Customers love IVR systems. They save companies (and their customers) time, as well as money, by reducing the need for live agents to answer or route calls.

As can be expected, your customers are not experts in creating IVR greetings. As a result, they will be looking for your expertise as their provider. When callers are faced with a complex or confusing voice menu, they may get frustrated and hang up. You need them to be able to contact the right people in a timely manner for their call to be a success.

The following outlines the best practices you should follow to ensure you suggest (and implement) a great IVR. This list has helped us and our current partners overcome the most common issues with IVR greetings. We know they can help you too!

Looking to learn more about reselling or accelerating your growth with cloud PBX services? Download our guide.

Make Sure Your IVR Greeting is Human

Okay, not literally a human – but you need to ensure that your IVR greeting is as human as possible. Thank them for calling you and use friendly prompts to make customers feel like they’re being taken care of.

Many people dread being routed through a robot, so keep things simple and efficient so that your IVR greeting can easily guide someone to the right connection. You can even add extra customer experience touches by incorporating updates about wait times or even mentions of “Sorry, this is taking longer than expected!” can put customers at ease.

Keep Options to a Minimum

When you’re creating an IVR, it’s important to keep simplicity in mind. Studies show that callers begin to get frustrated after hearing three or more prompts. They also get frustrated if they have to navigate more than three levels of menu options. To prevent this, keep your choices to a minimum, and avoid having a caller go through three or more prompts in order to achieve their goal.

If a Menu Needs to Be Long, Let Your Customers Know!

Sometimes, a menu may end up being longer than you’d like. If so, make sure you’re still keeping the customer in mind. Let them know right away that there will be a lot of options so that they can be prepared to wait and find their best choice.

By telling a customer “Please select from the following 9 options,” you’ll be giving then a courtesy notice that they may spend a bit more time selecting an option than they originally anticipated. This isn’t always a bad thing either; letting someone know that there are many menu options may also indicate that they’ll be getting specialized services quickly after their selection.

Put the Most Popular Options First

Staying on the theme of keeping things simple, an important best practice is to put the most popular options for callers to choose from first.

In general, your first two options should either be new customer sales related or existing customer service related. If your customer is new to this process, or is not sure where callers want to get, you can always adjust the options over time.

Blog: 8 Facts About IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Every Business Owner Should Know

Set up Relevant Categories for Your Business

The bane of a great IVR greeting is usefulness. That’s why you’ll want to break your business down into relevant categories to ensure that customers can be routed quickly and effectively.

Think about the main departments of your business, what type of questions they would field, and even the names a customer may reference the department as. Go for the most common name and follow the structure of your business’s processes when it comes to setting up the right categories for your customers to select from.

Don’t Forget the Basics: Keep Your Options Simple

A last point on simplicity: it’s always best to make sure the choices in your IVR greeting are easy to understand.

It might be tempting for you or your customer to use fun or creative menu options, but it’s best to make them easy for anyone to understand. Stick to common phrases and naming conventions when providing choices for the caller. Leave the creativity to the marketing guy.

Record Professional Prompts and Auto Attendant Greetings

One of the biggest selling points of an IVR is that it lets smaller businesses seem bigger. Traditionally, only large, “professional” companies could afford an IVR. Thus, a professional-sounding IVR can have a positive impact on a caller’s perception of your customer’s business.

This makes it a great idea to having a voice-over professional record the IVR system prompts and greetings. There are thousands of affordable freelancers who can deliver clear, concise, and consistent voice-overs that will reflect positively on the business.

Avoid Being Too Salesy

While it may be tempting to sell clients on new services or offers while they’re already on the phone with you, make sure that your IVR greeting isn’t being used as a pitch hub.

Remember that, as a customer is being routed through your system, the IVR will be guiding them through. There are many choices that they’ll need to make so that they end up being routed to the right place. Don’t distract them with sales options and allow the reps to do the work person-to-person down the line.

Suggest Self Help

As we stated at the beginning, IVRs can help callers save time resolving their issue. Quite often, the caller could have their problem solved without having to jump through menus or wait on hold. This is why you should offer callers options for self-help.

For example, it might be easier for the caller to email sales or support. In addition, most websites these days have FAQ sections, help guides, or support areas that can answer the most common questions. In redirecting the caller to these self-help areas, you can help your customer reduce the number of calls their agents have to manage.

Before You Can Design an IVR Greeting

You need to actually sell a customer a system! You can learn how you can take the next steps towards reselling cloud PBX services with our easy to read eBook. Get started by downloading it today.

Written by Sophie Furnival Content Specialist @ SherWeb

Sophie is SherWeb's Marketing Communications Strategist.