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Challenge #7: Saving customers from IVR maze misery
Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Are customers calling your contact centre, navigating your IVR and ending up in the wrong place? If so, there's a fast way to solve the problem painlessly.

Challenge 7 IVR 900

Our blog series on the Top 12 Customer Service Challenges has been examining the hot topics facing contact centres today. Last time we looked at customers having to repeat themselves but this time we're focusing on callers getting lost.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems can become a major frustration for customers. In fact, one study found that 98% of callers try to skip the IVR if they can.*

For a typical company, it's easy to imagine why customers might feel this way:

  • The menu option they want isn't stated clearly
  • Having got past one set of options, they encounter another, then another
  • They make the wrong choice so they have to redial and remember where they went wrong

It can feel like a really bad 1980s adventure video game or getting lost within the Paris catacombs and trying to figure a way out. A poorly-designed IVR — or even a half-decent one — can feel as if it's been deliberately constructed to stop them from finding what they want. That's nonsense, of course. But rational thinking can evaporate if people feel like they're trapped in a maze.

So how can the company prevent callers from feeling frustrated and giving up?

Finding a short-cut
The company can solve the problem for customers by using a natural language IVR.

As soon as they call up, each customer can then simply state what they want — in their own words — and avoid menus completely. The technology acts like an automatic switchboard, taking them to the right place instantly. Natural Language Processing (NLP) can combine machine learning with statistical interpretation to get a firm grasp of customer intentions.

Issuing voice commands comes naturally too, especially with the huge popularity of voice assistants around the home and in the car, like Alexa and Siri. 

 As an extra step, if the caller’s request isn’t clear, their audio can be streamed to a ‘hidden’ human agent who forwards the call manually, without the caller knowing. Corrections by the agent are fed back into the service, which continues to learn and improve its accuracy until a hidden agent is no longer needed. This is a great way to build confidence and fine tune a new service in its early days.

If you're interested in Natural Language and Self-Service IVR then take a look at what it actually does. You can also see where it is being used with outstanding results by the likes of digital communications company O2.

The outcome of it all? Customers get answers faster, fewer of them get frustrated and call dropout rates can be reduced drastically.

Got a different challenges?
Perhaps you need to address something different. We've identified 12 top challenges for customer service which we're covering in this blog series:

There are 12 in our series so watch out for the next one in the coming weeks. In the meantime, get your copy of our Top 12 Customer Service Challenges. This guide looks at practical business issues that are holding back performance at the heart of contact centres — and how to solve them. 

If you'd like to know more, get in touch.

*Source: 'What Customers Want And Expect' - Forbes (Aug 5, 2018)

About the Author

Claire Lynam

Claire Lynam

Marketing Manager

Claire is a professional marketer with 30 years experience in marketing, communications and PR, creating content and collateral that resonates with an organisation's audience. Having worked in multi-national companies and SMEs, Claire has expertise in creating messaging that works for both B2C and B2B markets. 

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