When designing a menu system to handle telephone calls, such as an ACD, IVR, or automated attendant, it can be helpful to think about the types of callers and how often they may call. Some of the characteristics for various types of automated systems are:
However, some general designing principles apply to almost all types of callers. The following is a list of common items used during human factors analysis:
When providing information or prompting for input from the caller use simple language and avoid using technical terms and jargons unless one is sure that the callers are familiar with the terms and jargons.
If you are calling for information regarding travel to Minnesota, press 1can be prompted as:
For Minnesota travel information, press 1Subsequent prompts could then say:
For St. Paul, press 2
For Duluth, press 3
Limit the number of options in a menu to a maximum of five. For each menu item presented to the caller, two different pieces of information must be remembered: the option (For California Travel Information...) and the action required to choose the option (....press 1). Having to remember fewer items makes the interaction easier for callers.
When presenting menu choices, always prompt for the commonly chosen items first. This helps the majority of callers to progress through the system, and get their information, more quickly.
If there are standard options that are used multiple times in the system, use consistent language for prompting and request for consistent action from the callers. This simplifies interaction with the system and would prevent callers from being confused. For example:
To return to the main menu, press 9
To speak to a representative, press 0
Interruptible menu options enable the caller to make the selection without having to listen to the entire menu. This helps repeat callers who are familiar with the system to get the desired information quickly.
Provide concise and clear error messages when caller makes an error. Examples: That was not a valid entry and That is not a valid choice. When the error messages are being spoken, do not let the caller interrupt the error message. Making the caller listen to the error message helps in understanding the mistake and taking corrective action.
If the IVR system takes more that two or three seconds to process the data entered by the caller or retrieve information to be spoken, provide feedback such as:Please hold while we access your information
One moment please
Please hold while your call is being transferred
- Avoid speaking too much information over the phoneAvoid speaking too much information over the phone. If you need to provide a lot of information, consider giving an option to receive a letter or fax, or direct callers to the agency's Web site.