Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Closing the Dialog -- Part III

7. Never say, “Your call is important to us”

Another non-negotiable rule. The expression is overused and will only elicit snickers of derision from the user.

8. Don’t make the user repeat information they provided to the IVR

One of the biggest complaints that users have about IVR systems is the notorious practice of forcing users to repeat to agents information that they had just provided to the IVR. There are three ways to address this failure in usability: (1) Pass to the agent whatever information that was collected – whether by a screen pop or an audio whisper to the agent prior to connecting; (2) if the system can’t pass information to the agent, then don’t ask in the IVR for information that you know the agent will need; or (3) at the very least, have the agent apologize for making the caller repeat themselves, and have the agent ask only for the very minimum to accomplish the task.

In the case where no information is being passed from the IVR to the agent, at the very least, make sure that the agent is alerted that the call they are receiving is a call transferred from the IVR. The agent can then adjust their behavior accordingly (e.g., sympathize with the user if they know that usually users transferred from the IVR are frustrated or angry).

9. Avoid transferring users from one IVR system to another IVR system

Unless the VUIs of the two IVR systems are designed as units of a common whole (with identical personas, with information collected from the first system passed to the second, etc.), don’t transfer users from one system to the other.

10. Don’t play phone rings unless you are transferring directly to a human

The sound of phone rings after an interaction with an IVR is a signal to the user that they are about to speak to a human being. Never play phone rings and then present the user with yet another IVR system.

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