Town Hall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS

Emergency Services IVR Review and
Best Practice Research

SDS completed an IVR best practice research report on behalf of a local emergency service. The emergency services receive a vast array of call types and therefore it is important to have effective triaging by switchboard and by callers navigating the IVR system. The objectives of this project were to increase first time resolution, triage calls efficiently and to reduce the volume of calls to the operational floor, ensuring only relevant calls reach the highly skilled call takers. In addition, non-emergency enquiries can be resolved by self-serving or by being effectively signposted to a different channel or external partner. Achieving these aims will increase the overall efficiency of the contact centre and improve customer experience by resolving their issue more efficiently.


SDS focused on IVR scripting and routing best practices, the do’s and don’ts of IVR scripting, common customer pain points and examples, as well as looking towards a digital future at more advanced IVR systems used in the private sector, especially in the banking, telecommunications and retail industries. These industries are using voice biometrics, visual IVRs and artificial intelligence to analyse voice commands in order to create the best possible customer experience.


SDS also investigated IVR systems in the emergency services. The team listened and compared many forces’ IVRs to establish common themes and identify areas of improvement.

Woman on the phone

Customers now expect to interact with local services as they do with Amazon and other online shopping sites such as eBay. Therefore, it is also important to signpost alternative channels to customers with the IVR script in order to satisfy customer expectations, create a multi-channel experience and reduce demand. However not all customers are receptive to these messages. Expanding the range of digital channels creates a more accessible emergency service as well as giving customers a convenient choice of communication channel to use.


SDS recommended call back technology in order to stabilise demand to the operational floor, reduce customer waiting times and to deal more efficiently with callers wishing to speak to a specific person or department. Call backs would also ensure that potential emergency calls or those needing to be dealt with by someone immediately would be prioritised.


SDS also recommended visual IVR. This emerging technology would increase self-service uptake as it gives callers the confidence to complete their transaction digitally. This technology is beneficial because it increases the accessibility of the service, for example those with a hearing impairment or those where English is not their first language.


6 August 2019
best practice, IVR review, research
Emergency Service