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Too many calls to handle? Automate, then celebrate.
Thursday, 31 January 2019

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Why are there so many painful IVR systems? It isn’t a new situation, but it has raised its head once again.

Too many calls 900

Why are there so many painful IVR systems? It isn’t a new situation, but it has raised its head once again. There are reasons why IVR hell still exists, and not one of them is technical. In fact, most are profoundly human. Let’s take a look at why the message “We are currently experiencing a large volume of calls” could signify problems that need fixing.

One of the essential skills for running an efficient contact centre is the ability to predict demand and to provide resources accordingly. If a business or organisation is unable to do this, they’ll have either under-used agents or over-long queues. Both of these are bad for business. But only the waiting time is important to a caller, with 60% of consumers stating that one minute is too long to wait on hold[1]. That’s why announcements such as “we are currently experiencing a large volume of calls” are a good indication that all is not right in the contact centre.

Everyone makes mistakes to error is human but to error persistently is both stupid and inefficient. Surely a contact centre should welcome “a large volume of calls” after all, that’s what it’s there for. Either those calls represent an opportunity to make money, or they reveal a problem which needs to be fixed. In these days of online anonymity, customer contact is a valuable commodity.

High call volumes are the perfect opportunity to use IVR well, to satisfy callers without forcing them to wait for an agent. There are many cases of exactly this successful use, for example the IVR systems deployed by companies like DHL and CityLink to answer queries about parcel deliveries in the bad weather or around Christmas. It makes no business sense to staff contact centres for the worst possible delays, in the worst possible weather, or at the busiest time of the parcel year. It makes perfect sense to automate.

The problems occur when you automate badly. This is usually a result of trying to put too much into the IVR.

Some sectors experience more difficulty than others. Perhaps business is subject to stringent legal and security requirements or needs to show best value on any spend. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for over-complicating and overloading your IVR to the point that it no longer performs its function.

On the other hand, if you reduce the options, take away the menus, you start to have the bones of something that could work. Add in advanced speech recognition so that callers can tell you what they want up front, in their own words and the IVR can then direct them straight to the person they need to speak to. No queue, no waiting, no frustration.

Eckoh have been delivering contact centre technology solutions for over 20 years and we’ve developed the biggest IVR footprint in the UK. That gives us a unique insight into self-service solutions. Take a look at our eGuide – Self-Service a win/win for contact centres and customers.

If you’d like to talk more about this then give us a call on 08000 630 730 or drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


[1] Google 2017

About the Author

Mark Holmes

Mark Holmes

Head of Sales

Mark has over 20 years’ experience in business, commercial and technical roles across many sectors including retail, public sector, telecommunications and outsourcing. His knowledge means that he can quickly get to the crux of any client challenge and address it via a consultative approach. Mark head up Eckoh’s sales team, proactively and reactively addressing viable commercial opportunities and ensuring that the customer is offered, and receives, the very best solution for them.  

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