Register your European telephone number online!

Call us:🌍 +31 (0)85 400 5588

What does an optimal choice menu look like?

The days of manually transferring callers are over. With our Interactive Voice Response system (IVR), you can arrange an automatic transfer in many ways. One popular way of transferring callers is through a menu.

The selection menu presents callers with options they choose between using the number keys.

As the number owner, you determine whether a key unfolds a new level in the selection menu, or transfers directly to an employee's extension. A key press can also activate an announcement text or another function, such as the digital answering machine.

The simpler, the better

With so many options to customise the menu to your liking, it is tempting to create a comprehensive menu in which there is an option for every possible question. But then there is a danger of your call menu becoming too overwhelming, with the risk of losing callers when navigating that menu.

It is therefore important to strike the balance between not tiring your callers, and directing calls to the right staff members. This can be done by observing the following unwritten rules.

  1. Use words that customers use

    Avoid thinking from your internal company structure. Your departments can have the nicest names, but callers often have a very specific question or problem. If you reflect that in the choice menu, you create extra recognition and clarity for your callers.

  2. Less is better

    Create the initial design of your choice menu on a sheet of paper. Next, see which different options connect callers to the same employee or department. Then think about how you can bring those options together under one heading. As an example, merge "payment methods" and "shipping" into "questions about your order".

    This also prevents options becoming too similar, or a caller having to listen for a long time to hear all the options in the menu. By keeping it simple, you are much more customer-friendly.

  3. No more than three levels

    To avoid making callers suspicious, it is advisable not to make your call menu 'deeper' than three levels. That is, callers should not have to make more than three choices via any route. For people who have called before, it can be extra annoying if a call menu is very complicated.

    Note that ideally this also applies to phone numbers that ask callers to choose a language at the start. In this example, the language choice is the first level of the call menu. It is extra customer-friendly if you indicate in the announcement text that the next choice is the last one.

  4. First the choice, then the number

    Many texts for choices in the call menus are set up in the wrong order. As a result, the caller has difficulty remembering which key now belongs to which option. "Key 1 for sales department" should actually be "For sales department, key 1".

    With the first option, there is a risk that callers will not hear the number because they are too focused on what is said next. So make sure callers first get clear on which option the caller can choose before you call the corresponding number.

  5. Avoid a loop

    Each 'branch' in the tree of the call menu should have an end: an employee, a digital answering machine or an announcement text. Avoid a loop: an option is one that sends callers back to the beginning of the call menu.

Experts in choice menus

Do you have questions about -or ideas for- a choice menu and would like to discuss them with an expert? We are ready to help you. One of our experts will be happy to help you get started.

Some Happy Belfabriek telephony customers: