What happens when your IVR spits the dummy?

We've all watched on in horror ... as an out-of-control child creates havoc at a shopping centre, restaurant or wedding. But imagine if something similar is happening with your IVR? Will anyone intervene to make it stop?

Within every family there's usually someone who's prone to raise a few eyebrows — the eccentric aunt, opinionated uncle or precocious child. Conversations at gatherings get heated, people see the with frustration or go awkwardly silent.

Within the family of customer contact channels, it's often the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that assumes the role of enfant terrible. 37% of consumers who ended a business relationship did so because they were frustrated with the IVR(2).

"I blame the parents"
Maybe your own customer satisfaction surveys have triggered red flags — or customers have vented their annoyance with your IVR on social media? If so, then it's time to intervene. After all, your IVR has the potential to seriously damage your reputation.

The trouble is, badly-behaving IVRs won't be shushed ... because they are so important to everyday business. Even though Live Chat, mobile apps and other newer channels are gaining popularity, 57.7% of all customer contact is still by phone(2). Your IVR will be conducting many of these crucial conversations — and possibly messing up some of them.

So what's going wrong?
As with any problem, it's best to start out by considering the issues that are simplest to solve.

Here are three signs your IVR is behaving badly towards callers — and treating them like infants too.

#1: Callers get treated like toddlers
Customers need respect. They don't need hand-holding in a childish way through every option, as if they're being taught their A-B-C. It's patronising! Here, the problem often lies with poor call-flow design that fails to reflect the wishes of customers.

#2: Enforced 'nap time'
Callers are in a hurry and can get information instantly using PCs and mobile apps. So being told to 'queue patiently like a good boy, or girl' while we play some lullaby music doesn't wash in our frenetic world. You need to find smarter, alternative ways to resolve their issues immediately.

#3: Nothing fits any more
When was the last time you redesigned your IVR? Today's customers expect self-serve options — like being able to make remote payments or check the status of orders. But if these are simply 'not allowed' then your business may have outgrown its IVR's capabilities. Customers will feel uncomfortable and wonder if they should find a company that's a better fit for their needs.

Finding answers
The great news is that early intervention can nip these kinds of issues in the bud and help your IVR blossom into adulthood. Often, problems aren't the fault of your IVR at all. It's just that your system hasn't had the regular attention it needs.

Expert help with call analytics, call-flow design and some additional tools can provide a guiding arm in the right direction. Your customers will notice the difference — and interactions will become a pleasure not an endurance test.

Discover more by downloading your free copy of our eBook: 'Is Your IVR Behaving Badly?'. You'll find it packed with practical advice, from simple tune-ups, through to getting the most from IVR transformations.


(1) BradCleveland.com, 2016.

(2) Dimension Data CC Benchmarking report, December 2016


Posted by eckoh at 10:29 AM on Jun 1, 2017

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