What to do — if your IVR behaves badly?

As many parents will know, it's a painful experience when the headteacher calls to explain that your child has misbehaved. The story unfolds and you react with surprise, then horror, then embarrassment.

Discovering some 'home truths' about your interactive voice response system (IVR) can be just as uncomfortable.

Picture it: You get your IVR looking clean and tidy and then send it out to play. Things go well for a while. But then there's a furious knock on the door — and a queue of agitated people, ready to let rip.

Every so often, some organisation or other publishes a survey of the most annoying things about contact centres and their IVRs.

Here's a typical top three, drawn from several of them:

  • Callers get lost in 'no man's land' because of badly-designed menu options
  • Long holding times frustrate customers and they give up
  • The IVR tells callers to visit the website instead (to make it easier for the company)

You could get away with all this in the heyday of IVRs, before smartphones and ecommerce websites took off in a big way. Back then, most IVRs were tailored to middle-class, middle-income, middle-aged and middle-managers. Everyone else just had to put up with the plummy tones and plodding style of the disembodied telephone voice.

Customer demographics have changed, and are still changing
Since then, that middle-aged generation have become silver surfers, internet savvy and mobile-enabled, while their Generation X or Y grandchildren now drive the ecommerce boom with far more disposable income and far less patience.

Instead of waiting patiently in line, they'll break off — and sound off on social media. And if the experience is bad enough (or funny enough), it'll go viral and be picked up by mainstream media. If other callers feel the same way, then customer loyalty and your Net Promoter Scores (NPS) may take a hit. It'll impact your bottom line too.

By: Tony Porter
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Posted by eckoh at 5:07 PM on Sep 27, 2016

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