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IVR - The True Value in IVR
December 27, 2011

The True Value in IVR

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

In the midst of the holiday season, it’s common for businesses throughout varying industries to shut down to offer employees an opportunity to spend time with family. At the same time, even normal work hours can invite so many physical customers to the local business or bank that an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is needed to handle incoming phone calls.

The structure and handling of the IVR is critical to overall customer satisfaction. This Plum Voice blog highlighted the writer’s recent experience on her bank’s IVR. After working her way through the menu, she discovered she simply needed to speak with a representative as there was no IVR option for her particular issue.

The only problem was it took navigating through several different menus to come to that conclusion. I had a similar experience recently, only I had to finish the navigation before finally connecting with a live rep. You would think my exit from the IVR would provide a clear path to the answers I needed, only I couldn’t understand the rep who finally answered the phone.

If you get to the heart of the IVR, it is put in place to provide help for the customer seeking answers to common questions or solutions to standard problems. If this information is not readily available through the IVR, customer satisfaction can rapidly decline. Satisfaction declines even further when the customer is denied the option of accessing a live agent at any point within the IVR.

Unfortunately, some businesses design their IVR to simply block calls. They understand the cost associated with handling live calls and will design the tree so as to keep the customer away from live reps. This is completely counterproductive. Customers can quickly tell when they are being diverted away from the center of customer service attention.

An IVR should serve simply as a first step to provide the customer with the information they want to expand his or her satisfaction with a company, brand or product. A live operator should always be available – at least during business hours – to save the customer from the IVR trap created by too many organizations.

In other IVR news, TMCnet recently reported that IVR has experienced considerable growth over the last year. Much of this unprecedented growth has been driven by vendors making significant strides in developing IVR technology to meet the needs of our highly-interactive society.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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