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IVR - IVR a Touchy Subject - Is it The Technology or the Business which Need Improvement?
July 25, 2012

IVR a Touchy Subject - Is it The Technology or the Business which Need Improvement?

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

Many people are all too quick to point a finger at interactive voice response (IVR) systems and its allegedly long list of frustrations and flaws. That’s what Dave Michels did in a blog post just today, going so far as to say that “perhaps the worst example of technology gone awry is IVR systems.” Just remember though; when you point a finger at something, there are four more pointing back at you.

Michels then sweetens his hasty statement by saying that “the IVR was the perfect solution” when first invented, with the problem lying in the fact that it was “too much of a good thing!” He goes on to explain that “We all know what went wrong” with the IVR development, including such things as over-automation and impossible-to-reach human agents.

“The IVR isn’t associated with general helpfulness, but instead is seen as a barrier to the assistance we seek. The IVR delivered on the cost savings portion of the equation, but wasn’t quite the boon to customer satisfaction we expected. Good technology gone bad,” Michels says in almost a kiss-of-death statement.

I think I speak for us all when saying “OUCH.”

While Michels and his sources continue to put the pressure on today’s IVR systems as well as its evolution (or apparent lack thereof) since its beginnings over 30 years ago, not everyone is being so quick to blame the technology itself. The blog also mentions how Doc Searls of WSJ believes IVR services and systems are a direct result of the attitudes their businesses have towards the customer-base.

In his article published last week titled, “The Customer as a God,” he writes the following:

“Big business continues to believe that a free market is one in which customers get to choose their captors. Choosing among AT&T (News - Alert), Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon for your new smartphone is like choosing where you'd like to live under house arrest. It's why marketers still talk about customers as ‘targets’ they can 'acquire,' 'control,' 'manage' and 'lock in,' as if they were cattle.”

This statement can honestly be no closer to the truth. For decades, this problem has persisted IVR systems and those involved, resounding loud and clear for all to hear. IVR systems do have a problem treating callers like the human beings they really are instead of a mysterious, temporary entity floating on the other line of the call. Earlier last month I wrote an article about Citibank Senior VP of social media Frank Eliason, who stressed the extreme importance of keeping an open mind when dealing with customers. Don’t think of it as a chore or a number; instead listen to their unique stories and you’ll see an unprecedented impact on business.

This problem, however, does not lie in IVR technology itself, but in those who operate and manage it. The technology does what it is simply created to do, but it is those who internally operate and control it on a day-to-day basis who really transform the customer experience. Yes, IVR could still require some fine-tuning, but what technological development isn’t constantly in the works for top-notch performance?

In light of this, click here to see some need-to-know information for having a successful call center.

So for those of you pointing a finger at IVR tech for “not doing its job,” perhaps you should transfer that sharp opinion to those whose job it is to maintain and facilitate this technology properly.

Michels does admit that while the “tolerance of robotic rudeness is wearing thin,” and that many vendors are working to resolve such issues. One such company battling against these claims – Plum Voice – takes pride in its seasoned experience in this growing industry. As a leading provider of custom IVR solutions and services, its expert engineers have designed, built, deployed, and managed IVR systems and applications for a variety of critical, top-priority businesses and industries world-wide. With a wide selection for customers to choose, you’re guaranteed a flexible, customized final product for the highest quality technology and customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Check out all of the companies excelling with Plum Voice by clicking here. To join the list of satisfied vendors and customers alike, do yourself a favor and check out what Plum Voice has to offer by clicking here.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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