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Maximizing IVR Value

upcoming airline reservation, he should be able to do get the status information quickly. If there are too many steps in the way, the caller will give up and opt out to an agent. Even if the intended task is to speak with a live agent, the caller should be able to do that efficiently, not after becoming frustrated. For companies receiving tens or hundreds of thousands of calls a day, a scalable metric must be used to understand whether callers are accomplishing their intended tasks. To analyze the rate of caller success against a large number of calls, it’s best to use the task completion rate metric.

Every point counts

Companies with large call volumes will notice dramatic shifts in cost savings and caller satisfaction as a result of small movements in the task completion rates. These companies often manage to within one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) in change to automation rates. Whether your IVR strategy is economic, customer- centric, competitive, or all of the above, task completion rates are a strong leading indicator of the phone channel’s impact on all three.

For IVRs that focus primarily on call containment, higher task completion rates mean more calls served without a live agent. The increased success of self-service tasks reduces loads on agent queues and can yield a more efficient contact center workforce. Furthermore, agents receive fewer callers frustrated by poor IVR performance, allowing the agents to spend more time providing high-value services to customers. For companies with millions of annual customer calls, every point in task completion improvement can yield millions of dollars in savings.

IVRs that focus on improving caller satisfaction will also see an improvement in caller satisfaction as self-service success improves. Increased task completion rates mean that callers are accomplishing routine tasks quickly and consistently, building trust in the automated service and your brand.

Industry leaders understand the importance of great customer service to attract and retain customers, especially in recessionary times when unsatisfied customers are more likely to switch to a competitor. Task completion success is an important contributor to the caller’s perception of service quality.

When is 2% greater than 25%?

When it comes to IVR performance, a little goes a long way. Recent enhancements on the Tellme platform have contributed to a 2 percentage point improvement in task completion rates, which can mean $4 million in annual cost savings for typical Tellme customers.

Other speech technologies boast about large percentage improvements in various technical metrics, but those improvements may not improve your IVR performance. For example, a 25% improvement in word error rate (WER) on a recognition engine doesn’t necessarily make any appreciable impact on task completion rates. In this case, a 2% improvement in task completion rate yields much higher ROI than a 25% increase in a technical metric.

When evaluating IVR systems, remember to focus on the metric that really matters: task completion rate.

PAGE 5 | APRIL 2009

© 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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