IVR Solutions â€“ Your Call May Be Recorded
Why do government departments and large corporations have such painful IVR systems? It isnâ€™t a new situation, but it has become topical again.
Why, for instance, does the UK tax office helpline, according to a recent report subject its callers to one of the worst IVR experiences in the country?
Is it because they donâ€™t care, donâ€™t try, or donâ€™t want to help you?
â€śYour call may be recordedâ€ť
Contact centers donâ€™t record calls because they want to. They record calls because they have to: Itâ€™s a legal requirement in many cases, and a sensible precaution in general. The same applies to IVRs: they are a necessary evil, a way of making customer contact cheap enough so that businesses can make a profit. An IVR exists to save agent time, either by collecting information the agent needs to handle the call, or by servicing the call without the need for any agent involvement.
I went into a shop a couple of months ago, to take out a mobile phone contract. I sat down with a human at a desk, and I had their undivided attention. At one point, the human sales assistant had to read out a legal statement regarding the payments or the insurance or some such: it took about three minutes, and I was fidgety before the end of it. If I had been on the phone, listening to an IVR read out the same statement, I would probably have been furious. In both cases, the problem is not that the company wants to torture you: it is simply a legal requirement for you to hear he whole statement. I tried asking my apologetic torturer if I could read the statement myself, or if we could just skip it, but my unwilling torturer explained that he had to read it and I had to listen.
Government departments, financial services, and many other organizations are hemmed in by legislation which makes it impossible for them to provide a comfortable IVR experience. When you have to be offered different languages, informed that you can use the web or visit our offices (opening hours such and such), told the per-minute cost of the call, and given all sorts of legal advice before you even reach the first menu, the telephone channel becomes a frustration rather than a facilitator.
On the other hand, do you really want to go back to personal service, face-to-face at a counter? Have you ever written to the tax office, or visited the office in person? I have not, but I expect it is at least as frustrating as calling them on the phone. I did visit the UK passport office in person recently, when I needed to renew a passport in a hurry, and I would happily have queued on the phone for a very long time instead. Sometimes it doesnâ€™t matter what technology you use: the process is just painful.
So next time youâ€™re stuck in a long and complex IVR maze, try to remember that it was probably designed to mimic a long and complex human maze, or to fulfil the legal requirements of our untrusting and untrustworthy society.
Sometimes you canâ€™t just have what you want. Wireless electricity. Instant mail-order delivery. A simple way to get to an agent in a call center. Get over it. The IVR is generally there to help you: work with it, or find a better way.
You can have better service if youâ€™re prepared to pay for it. Whatâ€™s more important to you, a good hospital, or a good way to contact the hospital?
If you want something to work, design it well. If you want something designed well, ask the experts. If you want something designed to a budget, accept the consequences.
And finally, as the late Douglas Adams succinctly put it, â€śpeople are a problem.â€ť
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